As usual my personal experience crosses over to my work with CRHF and vice versa. This past week I went to the US to help move my 93 year old Father into a smaller place with more care. He has lived for the past 8 years in this practically idyllic setting called Medford Leas. It is designed to accompany and support people as they age. Physically other worldly surrounded by streams forests, flower gardens and criss crossed with wide gently sleeping sidewalks for people walking independently, with canes, with scooters and wheelchairs. The level of care is carefully calibrated to ensure maximum independence. There is a cafeteria where residents can sit together and eat or take food home
There are two libraries. They have movie nights, game playing, music of all kinds, and a REALLY good lecture series. While there this time, we learned about Seabrook Farms where frozen vegetables were invented…and where Japanese people were living during the war. Everyone is super well dressed and friendly. And don’t even try to imagine the level of physical and mental health care. If you get a hangnail there is someone there to take care of it. Dad has issues with his feet because his heart doesn’t pump the blood enough. The doctors have been incredibly respectful and very human. There was talk of amputation which Dad soundly rejected. At one point he said I’m just going to stop taking all my meds..and the doctor said you will die within a month. Straight honest talk. But my sister researched and found an aparatos that massages and helps with blood flow. So Oopa, as he is known by hundreds of people here in Costa Rica and most of the family has now moved out of the apartment he lived in into a tiny, cozy space where he will be accompanied and cared for. What is the point of this very long post?
Because…I spent a week there. And everytime he needed something he got it…and more. He is living the time he has left living very protected. Which of course got me thinking about Don Luis who comes to our volunteer food program in la Carpio. He has chronic pain. No Access to medical care, lives alone, can’t work thus can’t pay rent etc etc. And of course I think
Does oopa’s life have more value than Don Luis? We can do more to de invisabilize people like Don Luis..and the many others like him. Shindler at the end of the movie said ” I could have done more””. My father has once again brought me to another level of awareness and motivated me to stretch. We can, and will, do more. Starting next week. When the elderly come for food, we will be giving them fresh fruit and vegetable drinks, light exercise classes, a listening heart, music and shared laughs. At least we can do that.
PS…I met the professor of a group of nursing students. They asked me for advice.,the words that came out were, when you are old your body doesn’t really matter to you…but it is the only thing that should matter.