Stella writes… they tell us to lie


Today, Seniors at Risk introduces a new series about one family’s journey through the health care system as they try to protect their elderly father from institutional elder abuse. Daughter Stella chronicles their story and her views of the Canadian health care system and its impact on her dad Charlie. Stella Writes will appear regularly on Seniors at Risk.

Stella writes

I live in British Columbia, Canada.  We have a government health care system administered province by province.  Some years back, our provincial government set up regional health authorities and new rules were put in place.  Since then, patients and their families have been playing ‘catch up’ as we struggle to learn what this all means.
I have an elderly father in a senior’s facility and our family has lost all control of him.  My dad Charlie has been diagnosed with dementia, been placed under Adult Guardianship and the facility is making all his personal care and medicine decisions.  I know this is illegal and I am appealing.
Until the appeal is settled, I am afraid to reveal too much that might damage our chances of having our father’s care returned to his family.  Over the years I have acquired a great deal of knowledge that I want to pass on to others who might find themselves in the same situation.  I will share what I can in the meantime.
Elder abuse is a terrible thing.  It is particularly heinous when carried out by the state we have hired to keep us safe.  My family believes our father is over-medicated and suffers from the cocktail of psychotropic drugs he is being given without his informed consent.  We are told that this makes us unfit to make his medical decisions and so we are neutralized.
Drugged seniors are easy to care for. There are many other families in the same situation.  BC seniors facilities have the highest rate of anti-psychotic drugs use in the world and I would like to change that.
They tell us to lie 
When my father was moved into the senior care facility, he was still very bright apart from having no short-term memory.  Since he has a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s staff treated him like the other dementia patients.  When I first showed up to visit him, a nurse told me ‘if he asks you anything odd, just make something up and change the subject’.
That’s how they talk to their patients but I can’t do it.  My dad is frail now, dependent.  His world is shifting around every which way.  Strangers pop in and out of his room moving his stuff around.  Another stranger drops by to give him pills.  He doesn’t remember people he has met since he became addicted to the benzo Oxazepam so just about everyone is a stranger.
But he knows who I am and I can’t lie to him.  It makes me feel sick just thinking how easy it is to lie, how trusting he is.  I made a deal with myself at the start, no matter how long it takes to get the message through and no matter that he will soon forget what I just said, I would always tell him the truth.
These people who are paid to care for him, to listen to him, they just make something up and change the subject.  No wonder people go crazy in there.

Regards, Stella 

Knowledge. Compassion. Courage. Action.

Take a stand against institutional elder abuse.  

Write your elected representatives, voice your concerns online, let others know what’s happening, or… take whatever steps you think will help make a difference to protect seniors’ legal and human rights from abuse by Canadian health care institutions and public agencies.

The Coalition to Support SENIORS AT RISK


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  1. THEY TELL US TO LIE… We had the same thing happen to us with my Mum like STella writes. The nurses talked to Mum like she was a baby, even though she was perfectly fine with us. The nurse ignored her requests to use the phone to call us, and we lost her to the authorities too, just like Stella’s dad Charlie. We live in B.C. but not in Stella’s area. When we raised concerns about Mum’s care, the staff lied to us, to her and to the authorities. What is happening here? How are they allowed to get away with this? It’s criminal.

    Comment by J&G — December 3, 2012 @ 9:48 am

  2. THEY TELL US TO LIE… In the West Indies where I’m from people take care of their family members, not like here. Why do Canadians put their elderly parents in these places in the care of people who don’t know them and don’t care about them?

    Comment by Samji — December 9, 2012 @ 6:29 pm

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