Ch.193 Letting Go of a Great Resentment
Before Pat closed out her life at Azura Memory Care she spent a few months at a place we named “Peaceful Life” Assisted Living Center. Located fairly near our rural Wisconsin home, Pat was placed there after her stay at a rehabilitation center only because they were one of the few sites that had an opening and claimed they could deal with Pat’s relatively great physical needs. Pat was recovering from a urinary tract infection (UTI) and was very weak. Furthermore, her diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia probably scared off some potential placements because LBD has a reputation for creating difficult patients.
Unfortunately, Peaceful Life was a new establishment; the owners had never run an assisted living center, the staff were mostly untrained and undermanned, and nobody there had any experience with Lewy Body Dementia. Things went badly quickly. Poorly trained, the staff failed to recognize that Pat’s diarrhea was actually caused by constipation. Her uncontrolled diarrhea created skin problems and that in turn meant Pat was in constant pain, especially when the caregivers tried to change her underwear. Pat became combative; the staff avoided changing her as long as possible, and everything got worse, until, predictably, Pat suffered her third UTI and had to be re-hospitalized. She returned to Peaceful Life for a while, only until we could find another place for her.
I thought Peaceful Life had done a decent job with Pat until I saw how much better she was treated at Azura. Instead of one caregiver wrestling with Pat while trying to change her (and eventually giving up, saying “I did the best I could”), three persons now came into the room at a time, one to hold Pat’s hands and ease her fears and two to quickly and expertly clean and change her. Pat’s badly wounded buttocks were healed within two or three weeks from the time Pat arrived at Azura.
Pat’s care at Peaceful Life was so inadequate that one of my children lodged a complaint with the state Department of Health. The facility did receive citations and was ordered to improve their services in the future.
I’ve carried a great resentment against Peaceful Life since those days. I’ve blamed them for helping create the conditions that led to Pat becoming so physically weak that she could no longer support her own weight. When asked about Peaceful Life, I regularly badmouthed them and recommended that people take their loved ones anywhere else than there.
However, nothing stays the same and sometimes things change for the better. A couple months ago I had breakfast with a fellow Lion club member, “Dwayne,” whose wife was at Peaceful Life. Dwayne told me he went every day to see her, and he was happy with the service she was receiving. “Well, maybe,” I thought to myself, but maybe Dwayne just doesn’t know the real situation. And then, my neighbor Bobbi Jo recently placed her father at Peaceful Life. She and her husband Mark, a particularly knowledgeable social worker, both told me that Bobbi Jo’s dad had adjusted quickly and that they were very satisfied with his care.
I could certainly argue that I have every right to remain resentful even if the place has changed so convincingly. After all, nothing they do now can alter the inadequate care Pat received and the damage it did. But what good would that do? I’d rather feel good about how they have improved their program, providing a safe place for local residents as well as jobs greatly needed in our rural community.
Holding on to a resentment mostly hurts the person holding on. I don’t want or need to do that.
So here’s the big question: If someone told me today that she was considering placing her husband at Peaceful Life and asked my opinion, what would I say? I would, of course, be tempted to tell them about Pat’s terrible treatment. I’m human. However, I think what I’d do is to mention briefly that Pat’s experience didn’t go well there but that I had heard from several individuals that their loved ones are being well-treated at Peaceful Life. I’d suggest they should go there to take a good look for themselves.
People in Alcoholics Anonymous have a saying “Don’t let someone have free rent in your brain.” I guess that applies to institutions as well.