Racism is a Disease too
Racism is a rampant disease among people over 80. Mostly it's the way they were brought up. They have been conditioned to look down on minorities and to have been taught through osmosis to have a low opinion of them. Depending on their circumstances some of the elderly have been able to reprogram themselves. Unfortunately most have not. And unfortunately again there are a lot of minority care givers in the hospitals, the private care agencies, the rehab hospitals and nursing homes. You are out of luck if you think you can find an all white staff anywhere and even then there can still be problems. In addition the elderly that I take care of can be very snobby. They are very educated, rich and very privileged. So minority or not, you an be looked down upon and treated badly under any circumstances. My point today? I take care of this woman who is in rehab now. She is 88 or so and physically disabled due to a fall playing ping pong. Personally I don't think she'll ever recover so I call this "Death by Ping Pong". She is very racist. All of the aids that care for her in this one place are black, from varying countries, and she hates them all. She has said terrible things to them and doesn't seem to stop. One aid confided in me that she called her "stupid and unimportant because you're black". Can you imagine? She sounds like that Sterling guy who was the coach of the Clippers. The blatant disregard for the human condition is astounding. She has told many of the aids that they are stupid and worthless. Um, excuse me but these are the people who are taking care of you. You don't want to piss them off. I have met most of the aids and they are lovely, hardworking friendly people. When she first got there and was behaving like this everybody just laughed it off. Now after 3 months they are ready to kill her off. These people are human and can only take so much. I saw one aid grab her by the arms, stand her up from the wheel chair and throw her down on the bed. My client was so out of it she didn't even flinch. I think they give her extra sedatives so she won't know what's going on and to just shut her up. I was horrified. She wasn't hurt but just that someone's buttons can be pushed that hard is scary. With that said, no one should be rough with an elderly person in their care. No one. If they have a problem with someone they need to bring it up with the supervisor on staff and let procedure run it's course. Last week as I entered her room she started right in telling me that she was beaten up that morning. She has a roommate. If she were beaten up the roommate would have heard something, right? Well I couldn't ask her because she sleeping. My client kept telling me that someone had come in and beaten her. I wasn't sure if I should believe her. There were no visible bruises or scrapes. She has said things before that weren't true. I know how she treats them so if someone really did beat her up then you know they were pushed beyond their breaking point. Not that that gives anybody a green light for violence but it would be understandable how someone could loose their cool. Her room is right next to the reception desk. Someone would have heard something right? Well her roommate finally woke up and told me that she heard an awful commotion on the other side of the curtain. She could hear her screaming and moaning. I finally thought "ok now, this story has been collaborated." I told the Head Nurse and she came in to talk to her. She wasn't sure if she should believe her either but she kept pressing for information. Later I saw the Head nurse in her office talking with some of the other nurses about this case. I stuck my head in to let them know that the roommate had heard all of the commotion. The story was real. By the time I was ready to leave my client showed me a cut on the inside of her mouth. She also pointed out to me the aid that beat her up. Should I say something? What if it wasn't them? I decided to stay out of it and let the investigation work it self out. This was all last Wednesday, today is Sunday, I go in tomorrow. I'm sure I'll find something out. But what are they going to do? You can't just fire all of the aids. You can't send in only white aids because there aren't any. It will be interesting to see how this is handled. On the one hand you can't blame the aids for getting mad and losing their temper, on the other, they are supposed to be professional and deal with issues calmly. It will be very interesting to see what happens when I go in tomorrow. Racism is the worst disease. It needs to be recognized and acknowledged before it can be deprogrammed and then cured. It's kind of like alcoholism. Your mind gets into a pattern, a destructive pattern that then needs to be broken. Racism is one thing, caregiver abuse is another. I have to say that I have never seen care giver abuse in any environment in which I have worked. But racism is everywhere all the time. Thank goodness it is dissipating through the generations but it seems we still have a ways to go. To be continued. Well... I went in to work last Monday wondering if there would be any changes. There were none. I asked my client how she was, if there was anything new going on. She said she was fine. I took a chance and asked about what happened last Wednesday... she had no recollection, didn't know what I was talking about. Her roommate was awake so I asked her how she was doing and if there had been any further commotion on the other side of the curtain. She said that all was quiet and good. Well, I don't know what to say. I didn't want to bring it up with the nurses. I wasn't a part of the problem or the solution so I decided to continue to stay out of it. All is well for the time being.