Yesterday’s post got me to thinking about the sad state of the elderly poor. They sometimes remain naive of the ways of the world especially if they are widowed and are largelay taken adventage of.
My “Mrs Pauley” post was partially based on a real person whose life fell apart. She was married to her third husband and living in low income housing. They were pretty happy but poor. He loved her. She loved him.
When he was dying he asked his family to help take care of her since her family was quite estranged from her. The only child she talked to was in prison and the only other person she talked to was his ex wife–crabby and bipolar but with a love for cleaning.
She had some friends amongst her neighbors but they could do little for her as they were poor themselves. She was friendly with a crabby lady downstairs and did many things for her but then they fell out.
This person’s life was mainly focused on her job as an in home dispatcher for her family’s plumbing business. She would earn extra over her Social Security and be kept busy without leaving her apartment as she was somewhat disabled with COPD and arthritis. She still smoked.
When work was over she watched television. She cooked a little here and there. Her few outings took her to restaurants or to her ex daughter-in-law’s apartment. She loved to go out and would dress up a bit and had a smile on her face. She loved to talk and also to brag about how good her son in prison had become. She had a tendancy to gossip.
Then, her life started to fall apart bit by bit. First, it was her doctor. He started giving her fewer pain pills because the HMO she was with set a limit. She was left with pain during the day. At first she used menthol rubs and Advil and such to mask the extra pain but it never completely worked. Still she lived with it.
Next, her son came out of prison. He was not the reformed creature she said he was. He was on the make, always looking for drugs. He stayed at his mother’s house on and off sponging off her as much as possible. He struck up a friendship with an alcoholic neighbor across the hall and they schemed to steal whatever was valuable from the old lady’s apartment. I don’t know how he got the safe’s combintation but he did. Things started missing from her apartment. I started calling the alcoholic woman the “thief” and she did a few dirty perpy tricks on me. I was not upset when the management made her leave later on.
When I visited her alone or with my friend she would joke that she had “old-timer’s disease” which filled me with terror as I saw my grandfather die badly of it. I assured her she did not, but, her work performance started to go down. Her in laws fired her. She was left virtually destitute. The pain was worse.
We took her to the ER for something and one of the nurses said she was an alcoholic but I had never seen her with a drink so I was angry and thought they lied to rile up a vulneralble woman.
Soon I saw the alcohol. She bought Whiskey at a half gallon a pop. I didn’t even know they made it that big. Whiskey, cigarettes and Coke were her mainstays to keep the pain away that the lower does of pills did not handle.
She was getting my friend or even ME to go to the liquor store to buy her half gallon of whiskey at 30 bucks.
Finally she could not take care of herself at all and the state got involved and put her into some kind of assisted care building. I inferred they had diagnosed her with Alzeimer’s as well. She was only in her mid 60s.
She had had a hard life in the woods of the South. She had no plumbing as a child. After two disastrous marriages and a few kids she moved here with her last husband. He was a quiet gentle man.
He treated her as she always wanted to be treated. She drank during her earlier marriages but remained dry for at least 20 years with the third marriage and afterward until her life fell apart.
We visited her only once. She had moved maybe two miles away to an apartment building refitted for assisted care. Instead of an apartment she now only had a tiny room that led into a common area with a fridge and microwave. Another woman lived in a room off the common area as well. That was her life. She also went to adult day care where they put her with the “droolers” even though she still had lots of lucidity. The indignity.
I’m sure she has passed away by now. It frightened me how people will take advantage of an elderly person alone, especially one who hadn’t had much education or experience except the hard knocks. Even with them, she seemd to be a little lamb amongst wolves. The only book in her house was the Bible.
She was a friend to me when I needed her and I wonder if she was being perped. I hope she remembers me when she gets to Heaven as a have few friends on the Earth.