April 2016   Comments

The wisdom of Willekes

I found that reading “Meeting Ageism in the ED” (Commentary, October) brought back some painful memories. The discrimination Carrie Willekes speaks of exists not just in the ED.

My elderly father had a serious condition and was taken to the ED. At the time, he was still driving, living alone and taking quite good care of himself. He required hospitalization, and that first night he was put into “briefs.” Inevitably, he had to void and got up to use the bathroom. Unfortunately, he tripped over a garbage pail that had been used to keep the room door open, broke his hip and suffered an MI. Eventually, he died from complications including aspirated pneumonia from inhaling the crushed medication that had been scraped onto his upper teeth. As a nurse, I was not only embarrassed but ashamed!

Admittedly, there is little time for nurses to get everything done in today’s hospital environment, and steps are taken to lessen the work load and reduce the time spent with the patient.

That being said, this article and the wisdom of the author gave me hope that compassion and understanding have not been totally lost because of the faster pace and the complex needs of patients. Her message — “Embrace the challenges and rewards of working with older adults” — is an important one.

– Judy-Lynn Hern, RN
Toronto, Ont.

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