Safety or . . .

I just got back from elder-sitting for six hours. I was there a couple of evenings ago as well. It occurs to me the humiliation and anger an elder feels when someone else has to tell him or her what can and can not be done. To b told you are moving around to much. . . that more rest is needed because you are short of breath . . . or you need help going to the toilet. I don’t know about you, but I’d resent it.

It doesn’t matter that you Need a monitor. She is there and that is enough. Everything coming out of her mouth might fuel anger and hate even more. Even if some part of you knows it is necessary. It infantilizes an adult who has lived independently for the balance of his life. His wife is as confused as he, more so. But they are of one breath now. He eats half a sandwich, she the other. But her mind is going, she continues to recover from seven strokes.

He tries to sneak out the door, rolling the wheelchair in front of him, touching his finger to his lips toward his wife. As if I wouldn’t see him. He wants to go to the front desk – one floor and a lot of walking away – to get an envelope. Something it would take at least an hour to do on his own, with me it is ten minutes. But he would have had his freedom for a time.

What is more important, moments of freedom or safety? Someone to watch over him, even though he doesn’t know her well? Someone who needs to try to calm him, to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself? I’d choose freedom every time. I already do. So I know I am nothing but an intrusion. He is a man with a wife and a rich and full life at one time. And now it’s over, with some woman telling him to “behave” as if he were a recalcitrant child. My rage would be unspeakable . . . is his?

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