The following is an excerpt from an article, written by Marc E. Agronin, MD, that appears in the New York Times New Old Age Blog.
Some new residents come into the nursing home like lions, roaring at staff members and fighting admission at every turn. Others come in like lambs, including an 84-year-old woman who arrived quietly after a complicated hip fracture ended her ability to live alone.Her presence on the unit raised little attention and no suspicion of a troubled past. But her son, when I eventually reached him, told a different tale: “My mother,” he said, “is a monster.”
Sensing my incredulity, he sighed heavily and detailed her sordid life as a boozing and gambling beast of a person who beat her son. He expressed hope that her arrival to our institutional purgatory would bring a minimum amount of care and attention as a slow but steady form of retribution.
She was thus bereft of all family contact, left abandoned in a bare room without even a single personal photograph. The son grudgingly agreed to intermittent contact with me, but not with his mother.
This woman joined a motley crew of other similarly accused characters in the nursing home — abusers, addicts, family outcasts and even a few psychopaths. Staff members are often unaware of the past sins of these residents, as they may be veiled by a lack of information, the presence of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of memory impairment.
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