Vernon Morning Star Boomer Talk columnist says while we must use caution while dealing with COVID-19, we must also take care of the mental health of those who must live either permanently or temporarily in our care. (Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal/AP file photo)

Vernon Morning Star Boomer Talk columnist says while we must use caution while dealing with COVID-19, we must also take care of the mental health of those who must live either permanently or temporarily in our care. (Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal/AP file photo)

BOOMER TALK: Long term care is around the corner

Columnist recounts mother’s stay in local medical facility amid pandemic

Now is the time for us to speak out, Boomers. Keep in mind as you read this, that all of this is exacerbated by COVID-19. Please also keep in mind I am not criticizing all those who work in this industry.

My 96-year-old mom was hospitalized and initially was put on the sixth floor of the new tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

After a few days, she was moved to the second floor (the old hospital area) and spent several days there, with the curtains pulled around her bed.

A four-bed ward with all the curtains pulled with no light getting in is depressing. She said solitary confinement in jail must feel like that.

I suspect this is due to the policy of placing men and women in the same room, where dignity and privacy is stripped away from patients at a most vulnerable time. This needs to be changed. (Sometimes going back is a forward move.)

As a result, patients keep the curtains pulled, locking them into an 8-by-8 space where there is no sunlight for days. The impact of this on patient’s mental health could be (and likely is) detrimental to their cognitive and physical well-being.

Then she was offered the opportunity to go into a short-term rehab situation.

Due to COVID, she was quarantined for five days in the facility. She was placed into a room with no TV, no radio, no newspaper allowed (COVID-19 rule). She jokingly referred to it as jail number two, only bigger, with windows.

Lack of social and mental stimulation for even the short period of time of two to three weeks can detrimentally impact a senior’s well-being.

Whether that stimulation comes by watching television, listening to the radio, or with a one-on-one conversation, being mentally stimulated can encourage the ability to navigate complex interpersonal situations, such as listening, processing information and adjusting to changing conditions. It perplexes me that those who work with seniors don’t seem to know this most basic information.

While we must use caution while we are living in the time of COVID, we must also take care of the mental health of those who must live either permanently or temporarily in our care.

I am somewhat loathed to share this information, as I do not want to be perceived as being negative or whiny.

But the reality is we all need to know about this so that we can work on changing it now.

There is a need for more staff.

When my mom pushed the bell for the washroom, the message was that she would have to wait, as they were extremely busy. So, my independent mom took herself to the loo and was told she was not allowed to do this due to the potential to fall.

Unfortunately, 96-year-old sphincter muscles are not as strong as they once were. Both staff and patients suffer in this situation. Staff, because most of them care about their patients, and patients, because it is embarrassing when the inevitable happens.

One grumpy person told her that if she did it again, she would have her walker and her wheelchair removed.

It was a cruel way to speak to a senior and one that should not be tolerated.

So please, if you have observed or experienced any situation that seems to be disrespectful toward anyone who is unable to advocate for themselves, please speak up. Write, email or phone the facility, Interior Health or B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix.

We all require respectful treatment. We must teach people how to treat us, letting them know that being spoken to with abruptness and rudeness is not acceptable.

Being kind to another human being when they are at their most vulnerable is very powerful and can change the energy of their day. When people feel better, they heal better.

“Kindness and respect is a gift everyone can afford to give.” – Anonymous

Carole Fawcett is a retired counsellor, freelance writer, humourist.

www.wordaffair.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at Vernon’s BX Elementary School. (Kerry Hutter photo)
Second COVID case confirmed at Vernon elementary school

Exposure at BX Elementary happened April 6 and 7

Highway 97 being converted to four lanes in April 1990. This photo taken in Lake Country. (Greater Vernon Museum and Archives Photo #14025)
HISTORY: How the old Highway 97 in Lake Country got new name

Pelmewash Parkway recognizes the First Nations history in Lake Country

Salmon Arm Silverbacks defenceman Kieran Ruscheinski (right) sticks close to Vernon Vipers forward Logan Lorenz during Salmon Arm’s 2-1 overtime win in B.C. Hockey League pod play Saturday, April 10, at Kal Tire Place. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)
Mack attack paces Salmon Arm Silverbacks past Vernon

Sullivan Mack scores both goals, including beautiful OT winner, in Gorillas’ 2-1 BCHL pod play win over Snakes

Paddlewheel Park off Okanagan Landing Road, Vernon. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon council looks to address parking shortage at Paddlewheel Park

City staff are looking into short, medium and long-term overflow parking options

(GVMA)
WATCH: A Royal procession through Vernon, 1959

Prince Philip, who died April 9 at 99, visited Vernon on a tour of Canada in 1959

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

These nails were collected off the Campbell Mountain bike trails in Penticton this weekend. Someone placed them all over the trail. (Facebook)
Hundreds of nails placed on popular Penticton bike trail

A mountain biker took to Facebook to warn others about the nails

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Flight with COVID
Another Kelowna flight with COVID-19 exposure

Westjet flight on April 5 from Kelowna to Edmonton

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

Most Read