“Why are you here?”
“Why did you call us here today?”
“Why did you come here today?”
“Is it OK to send her home?”
“Your mother is elderly, there is no point.”
“The NHS wouldn’t do that, there is no point in referring her.”
“This practice doesn’t do that.”
“She was diagnosed with dementia as everyone over 80 who has a stroke is diagnosed with dementia. She has perfectly normal thinning of the cerebral arteries.”
“We have drugged your father as he is difficult. Perhaps he is in pain.”
These are all direct quotes. Being elderly is no picnic. Being elderly on your own must be absolute hell. Having experienced being ignored, sideswiped, having anything I say ignored with my own doctors of late – talking of which – here is a doozy from the doctor I was with a few years ago –
“If it was what I thought it was, you would be dead by now.”
And I can tell you that it makes no difference whether you are healthy or unhealthy, your doctor is likely to make a decision about you and stick with it, no matter how much effort you put in to getting to know them or avoiding going, to prove you are not the witless hypochondriac they seem to think you are.
Here is the treatment for a head injury in an elderly lady a year ago in the allegedly inferior Victoria in Glasgow:
Heart check ECG
Scan for cranial bleed and/or stroke
Three days observation in an appropriate ward
Occupational and physiotherapy
Here is the treatment for a remarkably similar head injury for the same lady since the Queen Elizabeth hospital was built.
No appropriate beds for elderly patients, even if any action were to be taken following a scan, which would not be taken. No scan
I have also been told that even if she required a drip or post-operative care, I will be doing it at home, with the occasional aid of drop in paramedics.
Believe it or not, for me the new system, of making lay carers responsible for nursing duties, with no training in observation and rehabilitation, is not altogether bad news as I do not have a problem with devoting 24 hours a day to my mother and I detest hospitals. My father died very drugged in one, my friend died in the same one, and my uncle died rather unexpectedly in one. When you are over eighty, your survival depends on having a lot of visitors, so the fact that I am here all the time and can work flexibly around her location in the house is OK for me. It is not the same for other people, and it certainly isn’t the same for the unfortunate elderly who lack a relative prepared to live like a nun to take care of them. The rehab is 24 hours here, and I have the luxury of knowing what motivates her, which is a mystery to most of her family, never mind anyone else. It is extremely hard on me, however, and my life, in turn, is going to be considerably shorter as a result. I would hate to see her go the same way as her brother or my father however, so I am glad to have her here in many respects.
It seems that the new corporatist state wishes only for workers. You are entirely expendable under a system of discretionary excuses, regulated by NICE and delivered in varying degrees by doctors. Basically if you wish to attain longevity, you had better pray that you have no problems requiring conventional medicine, because from my experience, unless you have spent your life amassing visitors, you will not survive it if you are over whatever age they have deemed appropriate.
There is additional discrimination against women, from doctors of both genders, according to some studies, but I will not go into that here. I spend a disproportionate amount of time monitoring the chasing pains across my chest to see if I think they are getting any worse. Additional pains that were shrugged at turned out to be inflammatory in nature, and so alkalising helped considerably. Try telling your doctor, or even most nutritionists that, and they will laugh in your face. Quoting what you have read about the issues does not help, and many doctors are very threatened if you have done any reading at all.
Since the banning of smoking in public places, and the reduced consumption of alcohol as a result, they have less means to ensure that you do not survive too long beyond your working life. The internet and TV led culture we live in at the moment certainly help to make us unfit, but unfitness in itself does not kill us nearly as effectively as smoking and drinking. In addition, smoking and drinking pays valuable taxes, so they have discovered, since sending us on our health kick, that they have shot themselves in the foot in two respects – less tax income from cigarettes and booze, longer living and very inconvenient patients.
Whilst I appreciate that costs have to be managed as a result, it does not seem terribly fair that the elderly, who have paid into the system all their lives, should be told that they have had their fun, and they can just pop off now thanks. Or that women, who pay into the system less, and take more in the course of having babies should not have their concerns dealt with. If my mother had had urethral dilation four years ago, instead of being put on permanent antibiotics, for example, I am pretty sure the cost issue would cancel itself out.
Instead we had problem after problem, with the former doctor who knew perfectly well that her medicine needed updated every three months, and used it as an excuse to argue with me until I changed practice so that his figures added up. I dread to think how his parents get treated.
So, all in all, longevity is not altogether a desirable thing, unless you happen to have an awful lot of money to ensure that you get the best medical care possible, from someone who benefits from keeping you alive rather than balancing the books. Living your life as hard as you can would seem a preferable option, especially in the absence of family or friends.