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  #1  
Old 08-09-2006, 06:41 PM
Diamonds02 Diamonds02 is offline
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Sick people-How common is it for friends/family to abandon them?

Sick as in major disability or terminal illness.

My grandpa had tons of friends. He also came from a large family. His parents passed away a while back, but most of his siblings are still living. Five to be exact. My grandpa was also close to a lot of his cousins. Then, he got Alzheimer's. His social circle got smaller and smaller throughout the years. He is now in a nursing home. Me and my dad are the only people who visit him on a regular basis. Only once did one of his brothers drop by. He has been in a nursing home since last April.

My dad says this is common. I hope he isn't right.
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Old 08-09-2006, 07:45 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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Well, in 1995 my great-grandmother got Alzheimer's as well. We moved in with her to care for her until her death a year later... and no one in my extended family, nor her friends, could deal with visiting her any more because it was "too sad." Up until it became clear that she was dying, people visited her frequently.

I think your dad is right.
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Old 08-09-2006, 08:49 PM
Lissa Lissa is offline
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When I was in high school, a friend of mine got bone cancer, a very aggressive form of it. Out of all of her friends, I was the only person who visited her and I hadn't been all that close to her before she became ill. After I saw how she'd basically been written off by everyone she knew, I felt like I had to continue visiting her. We became close over the next year before she died.

I remember very clearly the immense resentment I felt when a large number of her so-called friends showed up at her funeral. Some of them even cried. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever done not to march up to those girls and hiss, "If you were really so fucking sad to lose her, you might have dropped by for a quick visit or at least made a phone call to see how she was doing."
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Old 08-09-2006, 09:00 PM
SnakesCatLady SnakesCatLady is offline
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It is difficult for people to visit Alzheimer's patients, especially in the later stages. It is painful for someone you know and loved not to have the faintest idea who you are anymore. I guess they figure that since the person doesn't remember them, why put themselves through that pain?

Other than Alzheimer's patients, I don't have a clue. I have never understood it, and I think it's sad. I know I hated visiting my mother in the nursing home the last six months of her life - I hated seeing her helpless, I hated the place, I hated the smells, I hated never knowing if she was going to know who I was or not...but I went. She was my mother.

People hate to be reminded of their own mortality.
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Old 08-09-2006, 09:31 PM
Savannah Savannah is offline
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It's weird how very old and very close friends seem to vanish in the face of terminal illness. It really surprised me. I'm talking about my mother's friends of 30-40 years!

And to view the other side of the coin, when my mother was dying of cancer, she had friends from her bridge club who came and saw her with astounding, and immensely graceful, regularity. I don't know if they were that close to my mom when she was healthy, but when she was dying, they were the best. Came often, kept the talk light and interesting, and didn't stay long. If mum couldn't talk, they'd talk to her, and if she dozed off, they'd just keep her company a bit. And then come back in a few days.

Ladies of the Castlegar and Trail, BC bridge clubs--I'm in tears, remembering your kindness and your company. And Auntie Norma, too.
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Old 08-10-2006, 04:47 AM
Common Tater Common Tater is offline
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The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog. The Alzheimers is a good example of the situation in extreme, but you'll see the phenom. in all sorts of lesser situations.
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  #7  
Old 08-10-2006, 05:10 AM
glee glee is offline
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This is one of those situations that is incredibly emotional and stressful.

Obviously you hope that we all do our best when it happens, but it can be a balancing act between respecting the sick person and dealing with the other people in your life.

Both my parents have been very ill for months, but I don't feel up to posting a thread about it yet.
I am getting wonderful support from friends, family, hospital and care staff. Plus my own situation (job, house) is fine. If I'm still emotionally stressed, I feel compassion for people who don't have such a stable structure to help them.

I can post two short experiences:

- when I was in my early twenties, one of my best friends and his wife were killed in a car crash, leaving 3 children orphans. Another friend and I rushed to the hospital to make sure the kids were OK. Then we started contacting other friends to alert them, whilst travelling to my friend's mother to comfort her in her grief.
When we rang the bell, she answered the door with a puzzled smile - she hadn't heard.
I managed to break the news to her, call a neighbour and a doctor etc. But I think I was in mild shock throughout.

- at a nursing home, the staff told me that the number of visits to the residents varies enormously. Some people are seen several times a week, some on their birthdays only. And some never get any visits.
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Old 08-10-2006, 06:06 AM
Fugazi Fugazi is offline
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I have multiple sclerosis, and I chat with a lot of people on the 'net with MS. For me it hasn't affected my relationships at all, but then I'm still early on and it hasn't affected me too badly yet.

But quite a number of people I chat with have said they've lost all their friends because of it. It really suprised me when I first heard someone say that, but it does keep coming up over and over.
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Old 08-10-2006, 06:21 AM
kambuckta kambuckta is offline
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While it can be difficult for old friends to cope with the onset of regular illness, it is especially hard when Alzheimers is the condition because as has been mentioned, it can effectively kill the personality of the sufferer while leaving them living and breathing as a human organism.

I wouldn't be too hard on the friends/family 'abandoning' them as you say. It is great that you and your dad are still visiting grandpa, but in all honesty, grandpa probably doesn't give two tosses who is around him nowadays. In fact, if there were too many people rocking up, it might just add to his confused state and exacerbate his symptoms.

Sometimes even the human animal can behave instinctively, and letting go/casting off of sick friends and relations can be a good thing under some circumstances.
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Old 08-10-2006, 07:46 AM
carlotta carlotta is offline
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Is it possible something else is going on besides sheer selfishness?

I have a lot of "friends" If I wanted to give a party (in the hypothetical event of my house ever getting clean enough to attempt such a thing) I could probably come up with 50 people or more to invite.

But intimates? There are maybe 5, maybe, that are close enough that they would know their presence/calls would be a help not an intrustion.

I have not gone through my own serious illness, but I did have a daughter who was very ill and then died (today is her birthday by the way) and during that time I had very little spare energy for people. Unless it was someone I didn't mind being around unshowered and in my pajamas, I couldn't really bear the level of social "artifice" needed (not that I necessarily was in my pajamas, that's just the marker for the level of intimacy needed)

There is also the problem of communication. In a group of 50 friends, how does the information that someone is sick and needs attention get around? If someone doesn't know the whole situation, how would a phone call go? "Hi, I heard you had....is it cancer?" Serious illness calls for a set of social skills that are rarely taught.

That the helpful ones in Savannah's mother's case were members of a structured club doesn't surprise me. Much easier for everyone to get the same information and feel for what is needed

This whole thread has made me realize that if I am in such a situation and would like more from people, I need to let them know. Email is great for that kind of communication. Think how much easier it would be to write a mass email that says "if you feel like it, I could really do with some visits, but if you could just come watch TV with me and not make small talk" rather than to make a phone call to a specific person asking for that level of interaction.

My heart goes out to all the posters in this thread who have lost someone or are dealing with the serious illness of loved ones.
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  #11  
Old 08-10-2006, 08:04 AM
SnakesCatLady SnakesCatLady is offline
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{{{carlotta}}}

My mother went through a series of major illnesses during her life, many of which put her in the hospital. She taught me some things I have found very helpful: if someone you know is in the hospital and able to receive visitors (i.e. not in ICU) by all means go visit. However, be very alert to the signals the patient gives. People in hospital nowadays usually are not really feeling up to long visits - by the time they are ready for company the insurance company sends them home. Go in, leave the flowers/candy/other gift if appropriate, hug/kiss if appropriate, say a few words to let them know what is going on in the part of the world that you share and that they are being thought of, then leave! Don't stay forever - hospitals have routines, and someone in the hospital really isn't in shape to be entertaining guests for long. But do let them know you are thinking of them.

I do think it is sad when family members don't visit someone in a nursing home who is still functional mentally. I understand it if the patient doesn't know who they are, but many nursing home residents are fine mentally (mostly) and are there for reasons of physical illness. My husband worked in a nursing home when he was in LPN school, and his mother was Director of Nursing at the same home before she retired. Some of the stories they would tell about patients getting all excited, getting dressed up, etc. for their birthday or Chrismas and having no one show up would break my heart.

My mother went back into the hospital the day after her 53rd birthday, when her sister (who was a RN) happened to put her hand on Mom's foot while adjusting the bedclothes and discovered it was ice cold. Lifting the sheets, she discovered it was also black. Hospitalization for gangrene ensued, and Mom died three days after her birthday. I didn't know to check her feet - I thought the nursing home was supposed to do things like that. Another reason why, if you have relatives in nursing homes, to visit. In all honesty, many nursing homes are understaffed and a lot of them have a high turnover. If the patient has relatives who show up and complain when things aren't done correctly, things are much more likely to be done correctly. And don't call first.
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Old 08-10-2006, 09:45 AM
Autumn Almanac Autumn Almanac is offline
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Sad but true. When my grandpa started having a hard time, all of his children and children-in-law, except for my parents, basically wrote him off. Worse yet, in an attempt to justify the fact that they just didn't want to deal with him, all sorts of imaginary grievances suddenly came to light-- "I'm not visiting him in the nursing home because he did X to me when I was 15." Bridges were burned between siblings that took years to repair.
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Old 08-10-2006, 11:27 AM
Aangelica Aangelica is offline
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I can't get my husband to visit his grandmother, who's been in an assisted living facility for the last year and a half.

She has Alzheimer's that's advanced quite a lot. She doesn't know my husband anymore - when she thinks she recognizes him, she mistakes him for her deceased husband (and subsequently flirts with him and gets quite..... explicit. At least twice she's gotten angry with him for "going around with another woman" and explained graphically what sexual acts she was planning to deny him as a result - very disturbing for him). She also no longer recognizes her daughter and only intermittently recognizes her sister and oldest friend - visiting her is seriously traumatic for a lot of people and often just scares the bejesus out of her. At some level she knows she should recognize us, but she doesn't and it freaks her out. She's also started to get combative with people.

All in all, it's not a good thing for anyone. The staff of her (really very nice and quite reputable) assisted living facility tell us she's a lot calmer when nobody from the family visits. She can tolerate my visits and visits from other people who are connected with the family but not people she was close to (one of my sisters in law, her second son-in-law (my husband's stepfather)). In short, people she didn't really know and therefore needn't be worried about not knowing now.
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Old 08-10-2006, 11:45 AM
kiz kiz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aangelica
The staff of her (really very nice and quite reputable) assisted living facility tell us she's a lot calmer when nobody from the family visits. She can tolerate my visits and visits from other people who are connected with the family but not people she was close to (one of my sisters in law, her second son-in-law (my husband's stepfather)). In short, people she didn't really know and therefore needn't be worried about not knowing now.
My mom isn't in a AL faciility (yet), but we've noticed this pattern too. Visiting old family friends of ours -- people I've known since I was a baby, people she's known most of her adult life -- agitates her to no end because she cannot remember who they are, although she recognizes them. This past Christmas was quite a trying time. We ended up leaving soon after dinner because she was just too agitated to stick around.

None of Mom's friends ever call to see how she's doing. One of them -- she's 83, same age was Mom -- explained that it's now too painful for her to associate with Mom because Mom doesn't remember anything about her or their friendship. Ditto for another friend who's now attending the same day center Mom attends (the friend is in early stage ALZ, which means she still has a lot intact).

I've explained to her friends that it's OK if they feel uncomfortable. I'm not offended, I understand, and if something major happens, I'll let them know.
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Old 08-10-2006, 11:50 AM
Beadalin Beadalin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carlotta
Serious illness calls for a set of social skills that are rarely taught.
I think this is a good point. Modern medicine is so detatched from how life is lived that most people simply do not know how to deal with death, let alone serious illness. We assume that doctors will take care of everything, so what is left for us to do?

After my dad suffered a stroke, my family was very fortunate in that lots of friends from church and work, as well as neighbors, made sure to express concern and love. There were flowers everywhere, food prepared, etc. That was lovely. I came home to be there for a week, and it was a strange week. I can see how, over long periods of time, dealing with an illness that affects the person's mental capacity would be exhausting. My dad lost the ability to speak after the stroke (he did regain it for the most part before he died). He also didn't give good indications that he understood what was being said, either, making it very difficult to communicate at all. We'd ask if he wanted something, and he'd nod. We'd then do whatever it was we'd offered, and he'd violently object. Things did get better over the month between that stroke and his death, but it took lots of work for everyone.

When it comes to illnesses that don't change the person's personality or communication abilities, I don't know what to think. My guess is that, when faced with such impending tragedy, people kind of shut down and have no idea how to react appropriately. Like [b]carlotta[/s] said, it isn't taught. Do you ignore it, and talk to the person as if everything is normal? Do you focus on it so as not to appear cavelier about it? Do you talk about your own life, which means taking for granted your own health and possibly making them jealous? Do you ask about theirs, and make them focus in their own problems?

Though it's obviously not the best course of action, I can see how just feeling completely awkward would be enough for some people to cease contact. It feeds on itself -- you don't call or visit right away, and it seems more and more ludicrous to do so the more time passes.
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Old 08-10-2006, 12:02 PM
tashabot tashabot is offline
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I lost two very close teachers and my great-grandfather to cancer. Each cancer resulted in a lasting, wasting illness that they tried to fight.

I couldn't bring myself to go visit them often because every time I did, they looked worse and worse. I'd burst into tears as soon as I left and more often than not have a hysterics fit that I'd have to get medicated to calm down.

I tried to send cards and pass along my hellos through other people, but physically seeing them was, after a while, out of the question.

Mostly, I wish I could remember them some other way. I wish I'd *never* had to see them in that state. I wish I could remember them when they were healthy and robust and still had the strength to hold a conversation. And I can't anymore. My last memories of them are really, really sad and pathetic, and I wish I hadn't seen it. I'm sure it meant a lot to them when I went in to see them, but now I'm left with a lasting memory of them just...fading away. And being in so much pain that they were doped up whenever I'd go see them.

So call me a horrible person because I can't deal with other peoples' illnesses very well - I'll make sure they know I'm thinking of them, but I don't want to see them dying. I'll send cards, make donations to charity in their name, or call them up, but don't make me go into the hospital and see them attached to machines that are keeping them alive. Don't you dare.

~Tasha
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Old 08-10-2006, 01:48 PM
kiz kiz is offline
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Originally Posted by tashabot
Mostly, I wish I could remember them some other way. I wish I'd *never* had to see them in that state. I wish I could remember them when they were healthy and robust and still had the strength to hold a conversation. And I can't anymore. My last memories of them are really, really sad and pathetic, and I wish I hadn't seen it. I'm sure it meant a lot to them when I went in to see them, but now I'm left with a lasting memory of them just...fading away. And being in so much pain that they were doped up whenever I'd go see them.
This was exactly the reason why my cousin wouldn't let Mom and I see my uncle as his ALZ progressed (he died of it last fall). As my cousin said, "I'd rather you remember him the way he was because back then he knew you and loved you."

She had a point. She herself stopped visiting him a few months before he died for the same reason.
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Old 08-10-2006, 05:08 PM
Lissa Lissa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beadalin
.

When it comes to illnesses that don't change the person's personality or communication abilities, I don't know what to think. My guess is that, when faced with such impending tragedy, people kind of shut down and have no idea how to react appropriately. Like [b]carlotta[/s] said, it isn't taught. Do you ignore it, and talk to the person as if everything is normal? Do you focus on it so as not to appear cavelier about it? Do you talk about your own life, which means taking for granted your own health and possibly making them jealous? Do you ask about theirs, and make them focus in their own problems?
It doesn't have to be awkward. I would enter her room and say, "Hey, how's it going?" If she looked better, I'd tell her, or give her a compliment on the clothes she was wearing, and settle in for a chat.

You just talk about whatever the person wants to talk about. If they're lonely, as my friend was, they'll be eager to supply conversation topics. If they don't feel like talking, watch TV with them, or offer to read a book or magazine aloud.

Sometimes, I'd just do a monologue about my day, which my friend seemed to enjoy. She seemed to want to hear about what was going on at school and how the people she had called friends were doing. (I'd lie to her on occasion and tell her that the boy she had a crush on had asked about her.) Sometimes, of course, she'd be in a bad mood and not want to talk about it, so instead, we'd talk about TV shows or make fun of her brother or even just sit there in silence for a while. I let her steer the conversation in whichever direction she chose and it seemed to work really well.

My friend didn't want to talk about her illness. She wanted to talk about boys and music videos, so that's what we talked about. Some of the elderly I used to deliver Meals-on-Wheels to wanted to talk about their afflictions, so that's what we'd talk about. I'd just listen, make sympathetic comments and ask questions. (Pretty much the same as I'd do if the conversation was about any subject with which I was not overly-familiar.)

In other words, just go with the flow. Don't go in with preconcieved notions of how it will go, and don't feel like you have to treat them with kid gloves. They'll let you know what topics make them comfortable.

I didn't want to visit my friend. Honestly, towards the end of her life, it was an ordeal. She was a living skeleton, weak and helpless, and it sure wasn't pleasant to have to see that, especially because I had become close with her over the course of the last year. It was really hard and sometimes, I wanted to take the easy way out and make excuses for it like, "Oh, she's probably not feeling well enough to see me."

But I felt like I owed it to her, and in a way, I owed it to myself. I didn't think I could live with myself if I abandoned her out of squeamishness or cowardice. Visiting a sick friend is just the right thing to do and I'd never have a chance to make it up to her if I didn't do the right thing while she was ill.

There, but for the Grace of God, go I. I would hope that if I were stricken, those I loved wouldn't ignore me.
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Old 08-10-2006, 05:10 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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My aunt is declining. I manage to see her about once a month. I wish it were more, but visiting her is a full day affair. I work during the week, it's a 2 hour drive (each way), and not all my weekends are free. Between being on call, weekend working, stuff I have to do myself, and so on, once a month is about it. Very sad.
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Old 08-10-2006, 09:38 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Once you can't socialize, they drop off expotentialy aproaching zero. It's realy irratating when immediate famaily living under the same roof won't see someone in the hospital that's dying. That's right, when they ask for you to come for over a couple months and you live in their house, you need to see them reguardless that you don't like hospitals. That was the situation with a friend. I visited on lunch breaks so she saw somebody show up during her home stays, but most don't show up after a long illness until the funeral.
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Old 08-10-2006, 09:40 PM
Stillwell Angel Stillwell Angel is offline
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Originally Posted by glee
at a nursing home, the staff told me that the number of visits to the residents varies enormously. Some people are seen several times a week, some on their birthdays only. And some never get any visits.
And they are correct. I work in a nursing home, it can be terribly sad. On the bright side, there are usually enough kind hearted people on staff to take these "cast-away" patients into their heart and show em a little love. It may not be family but at least it's human contact.

There are several patients where I work who never have visitors. I give them as much attention and time as I can. At first I thought I was doing it for them but after awhile I realized how good it made me feel. Whatever the reason it's a win/win situation for them and me

And yes, the alzheimers patients usually get the worst of this kind of thing. But as others mentioned above, it is a really hard thing to watch and not everone is equipped to see a loved one go through that, so I try not to pass judgement on any absentee family or friends.
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Old 08-10-2006, 09:40 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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My experience was that all friends except one dropped out of the seen after one year of not being able to work or go any place.
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Old 08-10-2006, 09:51 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Stillwell Angel it never is a bad thing to be nice and friendly to someone. Now that I'm feeling better and recovering emotionaly as well as physicaly, I'm falling right back into the habit of wanting to drop off stuff for elderly people I know. It's a good habit to have I suppose. I'm glad when I've been ill that I could say I didn't tease the slow kids at school like some people did. You should always give a person respect unless they earn your emnity.
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Old 08-11-2006, 05:31 AM
Noel Prosequi Noel Prosequi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stillwell Angel
There are several patients where I work who never have visitors. I give them as much attention and time as I can. At first I thought I was doing it for them but after awhile I realized how good it made me feel. Whatever the reason it's a win/win situation for them and me

And yes, the alzheimers patients usually get the worst of this kind of thing. But as others mentioned above, it is a really hard thing to watch and not everone is equipped to see a loved one go through that, so I try not to pass judgement on any absentee family or friends.

Mrs Prosequi works in the industry, too. She tells me that the relatives who visit least are usually the ones who are most demanding and irrationally critical of the staff. Her take is that it is overcompensation for the guilt they feel for not appearing often enough. As though throwing their weight around on one visit makes up for the visits not made. Is that your experience?

Secondly, we too have had a recent bereavement. Dear friend, woman our age; she was the one who encouraged me to make the moves on Mrs P many moons past. Yet I struggled to speak with her towards the end. Out of fear of a whole bunch of contradictory things, I became conversationally paralysed. I didn't want to raise the question of The Spectre in case she didn't want to talk about it; didn't want to make small talk in case she was irritated by the obviousness of not talking about it, and didn't want to let her lead the conversation because that put all the social burden on her. And any attempt to conquer this silliness couldn't overcome the excessive self-monitoring which left everything seeming contrived and stilted when compared with the easy chat of better times.

I guess this must be part of the isolation that the dying resent - even their friends can't act "normal". Maybe you get better with experience. I hope not to.
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Old 08-11-2006, 07:44 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Stillwell Angel the above was a bit misleading on the point. Good for you!
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Old 08-11-2006, 07:52 AM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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When I was visiting my SIL in the nursing/rehab home, there was a man there in a wheelchair. I assume that because it was a dialysis center, he lost his limb due to diabetes. Every time we went down the corridor, he'd roll up to us and say hi. He just started chatting away saying he didn't have any visitors coming that day. But he did it every time we visited. He couldn't have been 40 years old, and he was pretty much abandoned by everyone. I'd stop and chat for a moment, but I could tell it wasn't nearly enough to fill the void in his life. Very sad.
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Old 08-11-2006, 12:12 PM
Stillwell Angel Stillwell Angel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noel Prosequi
Mrs Prosequi works in the industry, too. She tells me that the relatives who visit least are usually the ones who are most demanding and irrationally critical of the staff. Her take is that it is overcompensation for the guilt they feel for not appearing often enough. As though throwing their weight around on one visit makes up for the visits not made. Is that your experience?
Yes very much so. As in alot of industries, you usually only hear about what you're doing wrong, and little praise for what's done right.
If these squeeky wheels who rarely visit were there more, they would see all the good we do for their loved ones. I am the department manager for Medical Records, so I am the one retrieving paperwork when there are complaints or threats of a lawsuit and about 75% of the time it is instigated by one of these absentee family members. But again I try not to pass judgement. Frequent visits or not, it is their right to demand quality care.

Unfortunately you do have fly-by-night staff who are there for a paycheck and don't give a damn about the patients, so you can never guarentee perfect care 100% of the time. My facility is very strict about it though. You get busted one time for poor patient care and you're out. Zero tolerance. We are not a franchise type home, we are a privately owned facility which makes the care a little more personal in my opinion. If a customer has a complaint they can talk directly to the head honcho and not some corporate rep.
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Old 08-11-2006, 01:18 PM
Lissa Lissa is offline
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Originally Posted by Kalhoun
When I was visiting my SIL in the nursing/rehab home, there was a man there in a wheelchair. I assume that because it was a dialysis center, he lost his limb due to diabetes. Every time we went down the corridor, he'd roll up to us and say hi. He just started chatting away saying he didn't have any visitors coming that day. But he did it every time we visited. He couldn't have been 40 years old, and he was pretty much abandoned by everyone. I'd stop and chat for a moment, but I could tell it wasn't nearly enough to fill the void in his life. Very sad.
That was one of the reasons why delivering Meals-on-Wheels was so hard for me. I was always late returning to the center because I hated to leave a home without having at least a little chat with each person. My heart ached for them, and of course, I got quite attatched to some of them.
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  #29  
Old 08-11-2006, 01:50 PM
Syntropy Syntropy is offline
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Originally Posted by wm--
Sad but true. When my grandpa started having a hard time, all of his children and children-in-law, except for my parents, basically wrote him off. Worse yet, in an attempt to justify the fact that they just didn't want to deal with him, all sorts of imaginary grievances suddenly came to light-- "I'm not visiting him in the nursing home because he did X to me when I was 15." Bridges were burned between siblings that took years to repair.
Don't be too hard on them. As you said, they're mostly imaginary reasons. People have a difficult time dealing with the terminal illness of a family member or friend; they don't know how to act and it's uncomfortable for them. Many of my patients cope with having end stage renal disease better than their families do.

Kalhoun, that man you met sounds like a lot of my patients.
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  #30  
Old 08-11-2006, 02:14 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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Personal experience; I visited my late uncle regularly. Many times, I would take my dog, and spend time talking to other patients. Many of these poor people were thrilled to see my dog-one old lady just buried her face in the dog's face, and cried as she told me how her daughter never visited her. I really think my dog was the only visitor many of these people had. I like to think that buddy (the dog) was able to spread a little cheer around. it is sad-sitting around all day with no one to talk to-I think thats why many elderly people fail so quickly,once they have to live in a nursing home.
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  #31  
Old 08-11-2006, 02:52 PM
Stillwell Angel Stillwell Angel is offline
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Originally Posted by Maureen
Don't be too hard on them.
I second that. Working where I do I see both sides. These illness's are often harder on those watching them than the patient who is going through it. Some people are strong enough to deal, some aren't.

While the alzheimer patients are usually the most abandoned, they have the luxery of not knowing they've been abandoned. Once the disease is going full force, they don't remember who their family is, let alone whether its been two days or two years since they visited. They do still need that loving human contact, but it can come from anyone, and alot of times after a hug or conversation (from staff) they think their son/daughter/sister etc has just paid them a visit. It's the coherant patients I really feel for. They know they've been left behind.
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  #32  
Old 07-21-2012, 11:54 PM
Dave M. Dave M. is offline
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I contracted Discitis from a diagnostic procedure I had in the hospital to locate the source of my chronic back pain in January 2010. Since then I have had two spinal surgeries and have been unable to work. Fortunately, I am a responsible person and have not had to ask anyone for money since I haved saved over the years just in case. Well other than my wife, my best friend, and my Siberian Husky's all of my family and friends have slowly stopped visiting me and/or calling me. I don't understand why people abandon individuals who become sick especially when you need them the most. Just to talk to and keep you company. I mean even my own mother won't have anything to do with me. I am so confused as to why this has happened. If anyone knows the answer or resources to help me, please let me know.

Last edited by Dave M.; 07-21-2012 at 11:56 PM..
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  #33  
Old 07-22-2012, 12:48 AM
oreally oreally is offline
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Originally Posted by Common Tater View Post
The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.
One of the best posts I've read in some time. Thx


Quote:
Originally Posted by kambuckta View Post
Sometimes even the human animal can behave instinctively, and letting go/casting off of sick friends and relations can be a good thing under some circumstances.
Like...........

Sorry that's one of the most ridiculous things I've read in some time, and that's being kind.

Somehow I suspect you'd disagree if you were the "sick friend" who was "cast off."
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  #34  
Old 07-22-2012, 02:40 AM
SnakesCatLady SnakesCatLady is offline
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Dave M., this is a very old thread - what we call a "zombie" thread. You will be more likely to get information and opinions if you start a new post. There are also ongoing threads you can post in just to talk (MMPS) or to vent (Jumpin' Jesphat... - this month). You may wish to start a thread about your own circumstances.

Welcome to the Dope. May you find a home here as I have.

Last edited by SnakesCatLady; 07-22-2012 at 02:41 AM.. Reason: it's the cat's fault/
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  #35  
Old 07-22-2012, 06:53 AM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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My Dad is old, & while I often offer him the chance to go out & visit others, he always says no.
He just watches TV all day.
He also insists he is not depressed.
__________________
"He is an abomination of science that curdles the milk of all honest men!"~~One Dr Chouteh, possibly commenting on Bosda Di'Chi.Or not.
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  #36  
Old 07-22-2012, 08:18 AM
lavenderviolet lavenderviolet is offline
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Originally Posted by Dave M. View Post
I contracted Discitis from a diagnostic procedure I had in the hospital to locate the source of my chronic back pain in January 2010. Since then I have had two spinal surgeries and have been unable to work. Fortunately, I am a responsible person and have not had to ask anyone for money since I haved saved over the years just in case. Well other than my wife, my best friend, and my Siberian Husky's all of my family and friends have slowly stopped visiting me and/or calling me. I don't understand why people abandon individuals who become sick especially when you need them the most. Just to talk to and keep you company. I mean even my own mother won't have anything to do with me. I am so confused as to why this has happened. If anyone knows the answer or resources to help me, please let me know.
Sorry to hear that happened to you. My future father in law has disabling chronic back pain issues. He started up a support group for people with chronic pain and ended up making friends through that. At least others who are dealing with the same problem will understand. You might want to check if there is anything like that in your area and if there isn't maybe you could consider trying to start something.
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  #37  
Old 07-22-2012, 09:39 AM
The Flying Dutchman The Flying Dutchman is offline
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Originally Posted by Savannah View Post
Ladies of the Castlegar and Trail, BC bridge clubs--I'm in tears, remembering your kindness and your company. And Auntie Norma, too.
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  #38  
Old 07-22-2012, 09:43 AM
elbows elbows is online now
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I think you need to try putting yourself in their shoes, and cut some people some slack here.

I was primary caregiver to my bedridden MIL for 6 yrs, in my home, right till her death. She was 87, and often had visitors, mostly her lady friends (the husbands always seem to go first!) of the same age. She still had most of her wits, just difficulty understanding her own condition, how long she'd been in her bed, etc.

What I did learn was that it's a different view, when you're in your 80's and every day is an 'in your face' battle with decline and your own approaching mortality. Seeing your Gran lose her memory is one thing, but how much more cruel if you were beside her through all that she was, not just a Gran. The war, getting married, the depression, raising families, bowling, cottaging, sharing tragedies and triumphs over generations, these women have a whole history that far exceeds just 'Gran'. That has to be harder to watch, I think.

Now throw in how many of their peers they must see similar decline manifest in, the numbers simply have to skew when you're that age, I'd have to believe.

How many visits could you make, before you were overwhelmed? How many could you make if you suspected you were showing signs? Or you were seeing signs in your spouse? How well could you suck up seeing someone you dearly love, ill kept, in a distasteful place, having no control whatsoever?

I guess I would just choose to take a more forgiving view, is all. Not everyone is capable of what you are, for often good reasons, I try to assume people are doing what they can, and leave it at that.
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  #39  
Old 07-22-2012, 11:39 AM
Incubus Incubus is offline
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I think a big part of this phenomenon is how a family was raised around relatives. Some families are closer than others, and for families that are not-so-close, it comes to no surprise they wouldn't be terribly invested in an ill family member- how emotionally invested would you be in a relative you might hardly see anyway?

A big reason I like the family that I married into is that they are not like thisl. Hell, if I was terminally ill I'd probably end up seeing my mother-in-law visit far more often than my own mom.
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  #40  
Old 07-22-2012, 11:51 AM
monstro monstro is offline
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I wonder how many people who avoid dying loved ones also have strong feelings against euthanasia.

If I kept myself living just for the benefit of others and they couldn't be bothered to show up at least once a week, I'd be kind of salty.
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  #41  
Old 07-22-2012, 12:58 PM
elbows elbows is online now
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And the second big factor, I'm going to guess;

Have you listened to an old person talk about their health? I get it's central to them, important, etc. But man, they just go on and on. Now imagine you are old, and all your friends are old, it must make up a substantial part of your interaction with each one, I would think. I can certainly understand an older person, with their own/spousal health issues, reaching a point where they just can't listen to any more of it.
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  #42  
Old 07-22-2012, 06:42 PM
Filbert Filbert is online now
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My Grandpa died last year, of Alzheimers- a few years earlier, just as it was starting to get serious, I went on holiday to Australia, and stayed a few days with his younger half-sister. Her mother was, by all accounts, a total bitch; my Grandpa was the one who basically brought up this 18-year-younger baby half sister.

She asked me how he was doing, I explained that he was getting dementia, and was starting to have trouble recognising all but very close relatives, but.. and I was in the middle of saying that he was stilll pretty active, and wasn't in care yet when she cut me off and said 'Oh, well I was going to write to him; I won't bother now, there's no point'. I tried telling her that actually, he loved getting letters- to the extent that my aunt would read any recent ones to him daily for months, and he'd get excited about it every time.
She wouldn't have any of it- he probably wouldn't instantly realise who she was, ergo, that was it.

She never even sent him a Christmas card again. Wrote a lovely piece for his eulogy about how much he meant to her though...
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  #43  
Old 07-22-2012, 06:56 PM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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This phenomenon is not exclusive to old age and the problems and sicknesses associated with it; when I became spinal-cord injured at the age of twenty I experienced the same thing. I realized who my true friends were very quickly. And that turned out to be very few. I think people are mostly selfish when it comes down to it. I think this is the impetus behind much of the abadonment. When a situation becomes difficult or awkward, a person chooses the easiest path; or the path of least resistance. And for a lot of people, that path is the path of abandonment.
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  #44  
Old 07-22-2012, 10:18 PM
MLS MLS is offline
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During my father's final illness, he got exactly one visit from a friend, who commented that he was "much diminished." Not one other visit, or call, or even an f'ing card. Now these were people that he had honestly believed liked him. Some of them came to his funeral, but almost none of them chose to join the family at his house for a post-service gathering.

ETA: My sister and I were diligent in assuring that at least one family member visited him every single day. We also did so at unpredictable hours to be sure he was being treated appropriately.

Last edited by MLS; 07-22-2012 at 10:20 PM..
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  #45  
Old 07-22-2012, 10:49 PM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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When my Step-Nan was finally admitted to a home due to her Alzheimer's, I never visted her because I was told it would have disturbed her more even though we'd got on OK. She'd spent the past few years throwing things (esp shit) at people and saying sometimes insightfully nasty things to them, but I know that at least some people still maintained contact with her (except her own kids - but I don't really know what was going on there).

With Alzheimer's it's difficult because it seems like the person is already gone. And often they're so old that anyone who would visit them is busy dealing with their own illnesses.

Also, some people just aren't that good at dealing with death and illness. WTF do you do? If it's been a mostly social friendship then you're hardly going to drag your dying friend down to the club/bingo/chess club/whatever. You'll still miss them being there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by carlotta View Post
Is it possible something else is going on besides sheer selfishness?

I have a lot of "friends" If I wanted to give a party (in the hypothetical event of my house ever getting clean enough to attempt such a thing) I could probably come up with 50 people or more to invite.

But intimates? There are maybe 5, maybe, that are close enough that they would know their presence/calls would be a help not an intrustion.

I have not gone through my own serious illness, but I did have a daughter who was very ill and then died (today is her birthday by the way) and during that time I had very little spare energy for people. Unless it was someone I didn't mind being around unshowered and in my pajamas, I couldn't really bear the level of social "artifice" needed (not that I necessarily was in my pajamas, that's just the marker for the level of intimacy needed)

There is also the problem of communication. In a group of 50 friends, how does the information that someone is sick and needs attention get around? If someone doesn't know the whole situation, how would a phone call go? "Hi, I heard you had....is it cancer?" Serious illness calls for a set of social skills that are rarely taught.

That the helpful ones in Savannah's mother's case were members of a structured club doesn't surprise me. Much easier for everyone to get the same information and feel for what is needed

This whole thread has made me realize that if I am in such a situation and would like more from people, I need to let them know. Email is great for that kind of communication. Think how much easier it would be to write a mass email that says "if you feel like it, I could really do with some visits, but if you could just come watch TV with me and not make small talk" rather than to make a phone call to a specific person asking for that level of interaction.

My heart goes out to all the posters in this thread who have lost someone or are dealing with the serious illness of loved ones.
Ridiculous as this sounds, things like Facebook actually do help for that. I've seen a friend accounce his brother's death and turn off comments. That means it's just there. Everyone's told. He doesn't have to keep telling people every time he's out and they ask how everything's going or, if they know his brother, how he's doing. It's like a local newspaper announcement in the days when everyone read them.

I'm really sorry about the loss of your daughter. I hope you were able to celebrate her birthday as well as mourn her - though I wouldn't blame you if you can't, it'd all be so tied together.
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  #46  
Old 07-23-2012, 12:19 AM
Kaio Kaio is offline
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For a variation on the theme, I had a pair of friends (a couple) who were totally there for me during my illness (drove me to and from surgery and watched over me afterward, weekly dinner nights -- at my place, since I mostly was too sick to travel even short distances -- to keep my spirits up, etc.), and we became (what I thought was) very close.

They abandoned me after I got better. Weekly dinner nights kept getting postponed, and no one would respond to my emails asking about possible alternate dates. They no longer called me up to ask if I wanted to see a movie or otherwise hang out.... etc. etc. If I wanted to see them I had to initiate, every single time. That got old real fast, though I kept it up a lot longer than I should have because I had come to believe we were close.

My WAG is that they could consider themselves "noble" for taking care of the sick friend, but once I was no longer sick it wasn't worth the bother to them. No more "I'm an extraordinarily generous human being!" points. It's not "noble" just to hang out with an ordinary friend, right?

Last edited by Kaio; 07-23-2012 at 12:22 AM..
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