Guardianships, isolation, quarantine, and death

How would you feel if you were confined to a windowless cell and could only go out once or twice a day?

A recent article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek caught my eye .

At the beginning of the pandemic, you may recall, the crisis that took place in the world of cruising where passengers and crew were stuck on board ships for months at a time to prevent the coronavirus from infecting countries in which the crew ships would dock.  Ultimately, after weeks of delay, all the passengers were removed including a number that died on board from the virus.  But as the article points out crew was left behind to fend for itself for months at a time.  Because the crew was restricted to their minimalist cabins with almost no amenities or even windows, as one would imagine neuropsychiatric issues began to emerge, some of which even led to suicides.  These suicides were committed by young healthy, previously normal individuals who were gainfully employed and able to commiserate with their fellow crew members.  They did have access to medical care.  They had access to adequate nutrition and even some recreational facilities including pools and gyms.  They were able to spend at least some time outdoors.

A prominent quote from the article reads: “How would you feel if you were confined to a windowless cell and could only go out once or twice a day?”

All of this reminded me of the horrific situation facing wards of the state who are placed into so-called memory care lockdown units where they are egregiously overmedicated with medications that immobilize and incapacitate them into zombielike states.  While incarcerated visitation from family is strictly forbidden either by the judge or by the Guardian or by the facility owner.  Other than perfunctory and meaningless physical therapy for the purposes only of billing for it, these wards have no meaningful exercise or exposure to sunlight.  Their only so-called entertainment is to be shoved in front of the television to watch cartoons incessantly.  Because their overmedication makes them lose their appetite, nursing homes and other facilities get away with feeding them slop with almost no nutritional value.  To reduce costs.  Nursing homes use the lowest skill level attendance to provide subsistence levels of hygiene for these elderly residents who are often found lying in their own excrement for hours.

The villain in the story of the crew ship employees is the cruise line whose interest in the bottom line preempted concern for their own employees and stood by as these catastrophes continue to occur on the high seas.  What the cruise lines share with the court insiders in probate is greed.  As has been proven endless numbers of times, predatory guardianship is only about money and nothing else.  The ability to profit often elderly person’s lifetime of work and savings is honey to the predator bees who care nothing about their victims and do nothing to fulfill their legal obligations to these wards and provide them what is in their best interests.  Rather, like the cruise companies, the court insiders use all their energies and talents to create billing opportunities which are corrupt and illegitimate, enriching themselves and their downstream colleagues and thwarting any attempt by family members to liberate their loved ones from the clutches of the court insiders even during a time of pandemic when murderers are being let out of prison to protect them from getting COVID19.

Desperate ship workers who could no longer stand their isolation took the opportunity to end their old lives when they saw that their situation was hopeless.  I wonder how many wards, when they are not being overdosed by psychotropic medications, would gladly end their own lives to escape the hell in which they reside.

A nation is often judged by the way he treats his youngest and oldest and most vulnerable.  I fear that history will judge us very poorly because of the way we have allowed greed and the unquenchable thirst for money to infect our legal and court systems, and produce the rot known as abusive professional guardianship. 

We should all be ashamed.

1 Comment on Guardianships, isolation, quarantine, and death

  1. Kendra Cooper // January 2, 2021 at 1:06 pm //

    The inability to visit elders ( by family, inspectors and ombudsmen— even with PPE) at facilities has been appalling. It is impossible to hold facilities accountable when reliant on what facility chooses to tell family about the elder’s condition and communication with elder is controlled… and this is apart from the corrupt court and guardianship system we know so well. This is what happens with isolation…

    In this case, family recently moved 100 year old relative (who does not have dementia) out of LTC facility. Before the move, she tested negative for Covid and had 1st vaccine. She lived independently until she had a stroke in 2019 leaving left side weak and entered a facility where she was receiving PT until March 2020 when all visits, PT stopped ( PT resumed only a couple weeks ago)

    During the past 9 months, she lost much weight ( now only 97 pounds) turned 100 ( celebrated at a distance with drive by) and communicated with family only when staff set up her iPad weekly to FaceTime. She had no phone access. Staff lost one hearing aid and broke the other, only replaced last month when facility finally allowed the audiologist in to reassess her.

    Contrary to CMS directives in the fall, the facility insisted compassionate care was only in circumstances near death. Elder spoke
    of wanting to die on Christmas. When the facility could not be reached all day by phone or email, family (scattered across the country), had had enough and worked out an arrangement whereby the elder is living at daughter’s house in the dining room with state of the art bed, air filter, monitors and family members near by. She was so happy to get out of that facility – talk with family, some of them have already had Covid.

    Before Christmas, the facility said she had lost her appetite and wasn’t eating. At home, she is ravenous, eats whatever is put in front of her but needs help to eat. Family suspects facility did not help her eat. Though the resident was not in continent, she was diapered anyway because it’s more convenient than needing two staff to bring her to her bathroom. Meanwhile, her muscle tone is minimal and, family now notice bruises on her legs and though not diabetic her hands snd feet in deplorable condition. These are things that happen when family cannot visit, no one knows and the elder comments may be dismissed or diminished.

    Four walls, window and private bath in a state-of-the-art Green House design facility at $362/ day was not enough— trained staff in adequate numbers ( particularly on weekends snd nights) is paramount for decent elder care.

    Covid has brought to light issues that we know are international in scope and bigger than the local court systems and lack of accountability. Society needs to take a long look at how they treat elderly and disabled. The inhumanity needs to stop; 2021 is a good place to start.

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