“They will kill me”

The Naples News blog “Life in the Slow Lane” had a remarkably tragic story about a resident’s stay at a nursing home.  The author told the story of her brother-in-law’s horrific treatment at the hands of nursing home staff revealing the nightmarish situation that can be caused by neglect and blatant apathy.

Diagnosed with Alzheimer ‘s disease and Dementia, Alan (a pseudonym chosen by the woman for her brother-in-law) was placed in a care facility.  His experience began promising as his wife spent as much time as possible by his side.  If the process of adjusting to a new environment, lifestyle and medicines is difficult for any patient, the hardships are magnified for a patient suffering the mental strains of Alzheimer’s and Dementia.  The disease caused Alan’s memories of his troubled background to be revitalized. It reproduced his fears of police and political violence which stemmed from his childhood under Nazi-controlled Eastern Europe.

Personnel trained in dealing with Alzheimer’s and Dementia aid patients in effectively navigating the effects of the illnesses. Unfortunately, nursing home staff disinterested in a patient’s plight renders any such training useless.  Alan’s condition worsened unnecessarily under the impersonal treatment of an uncaring nurse. The nurse inappropriately disproved of the attention Alan’s wife gave her husband and began forming reports labeling Alan a dangerous trouble-maker.  After Alan’s long term insurance ran out, the nursing home attempted to dismiss him from their facility.  His wife fought hard to convince the home to honor their former promise of providing Alan care as a Medicaid patient.  The home eventually relented. However after this confrontation, Alan’s wife noted the care her husband received took a disastrous turn for the worst. Alan was placed in situations that heightened his stress and anxiety.

In one stressful circumstance, Alan gripped the wrist of a nursing home aid.  When this act was deemed assault, Alan’s worst fears would become reality.  The police were called to take him away for mental evaluation.  After Alan’s traumatic nursing home “assault” scene, he endured the mortifying experience of being taken away in a police car.  His wife and sister-in-law would be haunted by his screams for help long after his death. Though released as a patient suffering the effects of Dementia and Alzheimer’s, Alan’s health fatally declined after the experience.

The remainder of his days, he spent silently slumped in a wheel chair. His death came soon after. The care Alan received was inexcusable for staff claiming to be well trained in handling dementia and Alzheimer’s. His ramblings “they will kill me” were not merely the imagination of a mentally unstable resident.