Respect Your Elders

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Respect Your Elders
When I was a child, my mother had a desk job at a nursing home. Much to my horror, she would often drag me along to Christmas parties, bingo games, and other events. The place felt more like a haunted house than a rest home. On top of the moaning and hollering throughout the halls, there was something about the smell. It was not the loneliness of the old folks with so many stories that no one wanted to hear that bothered me. I was not the bed sores or the staff infections that upset me. It was the smell. It was being kept from what I would have rather been doing. It was not until my own grandmother got sick and was no longer able to care for herself that my eyes were opened. There is much that is forgotten, or perhaps ignored, behind the doors with the keypads on them that lock people inside instead of locking strangers out. I had no idea how the elderly are really treated once they are placed into a retirement home. My grandmother had been hospitalized before, like most elderly people. She would be treated and sent back home. I did not expect to be sleeping in a chair in a hospital room for weeks hoping she would wake up. She had a crown of little black sensors suctioned all over her head that reminded me of spider legs. The doctor told me with a rehearsed sincerity that there was no brain activity, and they would have to remove the ventilator. When the rest of the family arrived, the nurses began removing the tubes and gadgets from my grandmother's body. Miraculously, she woke up! She woke up, and she said she was hungry! She was always hungry; unfortunately for her, the doctors demanded there would be no real food for at least twenty four hours. My sweet Mammaw would recover, but she would not be sent home. She would move into a retirement home and need extensive physical therapy to move her arms and legs again. She would need to relearn every single basic human function. The realization of this makes clear the importance...
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