Why bother, they’re going to die…

Imagine:

You’ve led a full life in a community where you paid your taxes. You’ve purchased over and over again in your community, spending your money at local businesses. You’ve had a family. Your own home. Your own house. Your own garden. A dog. Maybe a few. Some cats, despite that damn hair on the couch. You’ve listened to your TV in the background of coffee scents, a home cooked meal, popcorn your kids made, smelled bacon from a weekend breakfast, heard laughter, saw tears, did laundry, played board games and cards, had barbecues in the summer, shared a drink or two over some heated conversations, slept in a double bed with your honey, attended some weddings, some funerals, some graduations…. then, you got old.

You. Got. Old.

And, your ill health became… too much for your family to properly take care of you. Or maybe you had no family left. Or your kids were far away because there wasn’t enough to keep them on the Island.

And the hospital said, “you’re a level 4.”

Level four.

If you lived in or near Montague, Prince Edward Island, that usually meant…. the “Manor”.

The Riverview Manor. The government run nursing home.

That place that was supposed to be new by now. That place where the workers’ hearts were in the right place but the building denied you any dignity.

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You have no choice. You try to make the best of it so your family doesn’t worry.

But. You have knots in your stomach when they drive you up the hill.

You lay in your tiny bed, in your tiny pale green room with your dirty floor and wonder, “how did I get here?” You put on a smile for your friends who rarely visit because they can’t stand the smell or the depressing atmosphere, and for your family who grit their teeth and have their hearts broken every time they say good bye to you. Guilt follows them out of the building insisting that they could have done better and kept you at home.

You have a lot of time to think. And, think, you do. You think about that elusive new place that that government was supposed to build. Why it didn’t happen years ago when it was first promised? You wonder if you’ll live long enough to see it.

The ceiling tiles start falling. A cursory visit from the Premier and the MLA. Don’t they realize that the urgency to break ground on the new building has increased hugely? Oh. More promises. Next spring!

And, now, this: oil spilling near the furnace. Oil? Fuel? On the floor???

“Do we have to go up in flames before we get attention?” Is the government whispering, “Why bother, they’re going to die soon”? “It’s not a lucrative business”?

You wonder where those political men will go when they are old and can’t be taken care of. You wonder if they will have a comfortable space for their last days or years. You wonder if they have family who will be there. You wonder how they sleep at night.

You wish you could ask them to please help you and your fellow elders to have a pleasant last place they could call home, where family would linger longer because it was nice, but… you’re just too damn tired.

————

That’s why I continue to write from Vancouver. I can’t not.  Let’s start to ask the question, what can we DO? How can we help our elders in Montague feel much better and safer?

(Oh.. and did I mention that I’ll be on PEI very soon?)

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35 thoughts on “Why bother, they’re going to die…

  1. This is such a sad reality that these elderly people must endure while the government a
    ALLOWS this to continue. I have not been to the Riverview Manor but from the pictures and the very vivid description from Ms Jeeves, how can this go on? The farms that largely populate this beautiful province we live in are cleaner then a facility caring for sick/bedridden and individuals that have extremely low immune systems that can catch any bug or SUPER bug that is going around. My own father passed away from similar circumstances and no one should have to go through that if there is no reason to.

    Take a moment and realize….We do not live in a third world country and we should not treat our elders, nor anyone, like we do. Find the money anyway possible by asking/begging and constantly calling the Federal Government. How can this not be fixed??

    1. Thank you for reading and responding, Michelle. I appreciate your feedback. Yes.. while so much is prestine and beautiful on PEI, there are quietly dark sides that the average person is unaware of. The health issues you bring up are so pertinent. The attitude seems to be “they’re just waiting to die” so why go the extra mile. I don’t know. It baffles me. Something needs to happen now… not in an elusive Spring time. I’m sorry your own Dad had to experience this. I’m sure it was hard on him. My best to you, Trilby

    2. Brad Oliver

      My Mother is a resident at Riverview Manor and I have been there almost everyday in the past year. The building is old and needs to be replaced, I’ll give you that.
      It is however run by a terrific staff who bend over backwards for the residents. The residence is NOT dirty and morale is high in both the residents and the staff. The level of care is very good!
      I’m proud that my Mom is a resident there and wish to recognize Kathy King and her staff for being the professionals that they are.

      1. Thank you for reading my post and caring to comment. Yes, I agree regarding the staff. And, not once have I ever spoke against the staff. My father loved the staff, and he NEVER complained. But, I also know the frustration my father experienced by living in a room that didn’t allow him his independence of reaching for his own toothbrush and his books and whatever he desired. That place is not good for people with wheelchair dependence. And, the new manors that the politicians have been promising for years would have given my father so much more independence and freedom. If you had seen the excitement my father had when he heard about the new Manor, you might understand my frustration. I hope so, Mr. Oliver.

  2. I truly think it is disgusting how they are making our seniors live in squalor. The conditions are horrendous. Yet, the government seems to feel Montague needs a new liquor store! Yes, thats what we are getting rather than give our seniors some dignity in their old age. There is already a liquor store 3 minutes outside Montague and one in Cardigan. Heaven forbid someone have to drive a few miles to get their beer or spirits. This whole situation is beyond ridiculous.

    1. Thank you DeeDee, for writing. It’s a hard situation. And, the liquor store up the road is leased by the government, and apparently the lease is up. Tim Banks is building a new building near Sobeys (they’ve broken ground) and the government will be leasing it. Sigh… It’s an icky state of affairs.

  3. Claudette Horton

    that pain me to no end my mom who is getting up there in years and i also not living on the island understands this to well no hospital in thier community before i left the island there was a new hospital promises of doctor but now its were they go when they dont have much time left on this earth … can i suggest you look up this manor /senior residents called Holland Christian Homes brampton , ontario ( its were i work) it is a 15 acre lot with 4 tower for senior resident to live in their own apartments each tower is about 12 to 17 story high, and they have 2 manor , the first manor has 3 floor – with residents that can no longer care for them selfs A and B wing North or south … caring for about 200 residents on each floor why i say to check them out they are all non – profit started by 6 dutch families that seen their parents getting older and no place to put them for care .. maybe just maybe starting a non profit manor would be built faster then waiting on the government if they broke their promise this many time they will continue to do so i suggest going the non profit way … it works i know i work in the laundry department and i love chatting it up with each resident when i deliver their clothes back …

    1. I appreciate your information, Claudette, and also your sharing your situation. I’m eager to look at where you work. I think we need to see more positive situations so as to compare and have something to strive for. Thank you for being such a great person for the elders where you work. That’s the biggest gift you could give them. All my best, Trilby

  4. With the right connections it is very possible to have a proper home made for the aging .do not forget that the middle age are eventually going to be the ones needing the care and will also need a home when family can no longer care for them if that is the case.You point out that there is a injustice done ,and has been an ongoing one because of the claimed condition of the present Manor.Should have been taken priority long ago and not when it is about to be closed.So the only solution is to rebuild and give the Government officials on the Island the bill.When the community comes together great things can happen.Start the ball rolling with a building permit and ask rather beg the locals for support in this venture.Calling names and blaming will get nothing more done than calling names and blaming.I hope this helps and someone is brave enough and has the faith to begin somewhere and get a far better system made for the people who need it now and those who will need it in the future.

    1. Hello Norma… thank you for your thoughts. I so agree that this situation should have been taken up long ago. My family isn’t from Montague and we had no idea about anything there until a few years ago. The community was also kept quiet with repeated promises. I believe, as well, that we all have to stop looking to the weak government system for our solutions. We need to regain our power and run the community from a closer to home system. Like you said… build and not wait. Talking about this will wear very thin, and very soon. The “brave” someone has to begin now. This problem is not going away. In fact, it will gather momentum as the population ages. ….. There’s my Friday rant… Thanks for “listening” Norma!

      1. You’re welcome! Thank you for the reply.Would like to add that there is that old saying about the squeaky wheel. Worst thing to do is be quiet when there are those who have little voice to complain and demand action on their own.Keep squeaking and squeaking louder and louder until there is some much needed oil given to the solution.

      2. Wonder if anything has improved by now ? I know their staff are not the problem ,not the residents either. It is always the money. Would think that there is a solution ,should come along any time now. Any updates Trilby ?

      3. Hi Norma,
        No… there is no update. I think we’re all in another waiting game to see if the government fulfill their promise, again, in the Spring. I don’t know what else to do. They most certainly won’t break ground now. You have any thoughts? Best, Trilby

  5. Kathy Schroeder

    This article needs to be sent to every government official on Prince Edward Island…no wait to every government official in Canada!!! Government officials are supposed to be the voice of the people and this includes the elderly in nursing homes who have no one else to speak for them. Maybe it is time our government re-evaluates their position on the government operated nursing homes. It might just surprise them to learn of the value the elderly are to community life. Every vote cast that ever elected a government official initiated from an elderly person who passed their wisdom down from generation to generation. What lessons are showing our future generations if we continue to let the residents of government operated nursing homes live in buildings that have outlived their prime. I read that government officials have recently visited the manor in Montague. Kudos to those government officials. Now , turn the tide for the elderly on Prince Edward Island. Be the voice that speaks for the elderly in government circles.

    1. Yes… the Premier and the finance minister unexpectedly visited the Manor after my first article “Enough is Enough..” went viral. They had been invited several times by the Mayor, and the town council but never showed up. To be honest, Kathy, I don’t really know how the government could be surprised about the influence of the elders in a community. Seems to me that’s a given…but maybe they need reminding and we are here to do it. Thanks so much for your words, Kathy….

  6. Kathy Schroeder

    Question???? Privately owned nursing homes have to meet rigid government standards to remain open. What government agency is the watchdog for government owned nursing homes and are the standards the same for both?

  7. E.F.MacKinnon

    Ya but Montague is getting a NEW booze store !! Disgusting I say ,7 yrs ago I would not have admitted my husband to that Gov facility ,it smelled awful the day my son &I toured it&son said to me “No Way 4 Dad, My heart goes out to the beautiful frail residents there ,the staff are doing their best ,please save this bldg for the old Gov ministers to live in soon + maybe our Premier ,

    1. Thank you for your feedback and for reading the post, E.F. MacKinnon. Glad you didn’t have to stay at the Manor. Yes, the staff are doing amazing considering their work place. They also deserve a much healthier, safer, dignified environment. All the best…

  8. K Penner

    Saw this post on facebook. I am an ex-pat Islander also living in BC. I moved here to work in healthcare with the geriatric population. While I realize that the staff likely have no control of this situation, I am appalled. Just like I was when I had to go visit some patients in certain older building of Vancouver General. Deplorable.
    My heart goes out to you Trilby and your parents, that they had to suffer the indignity of such a place that the PEI government is publicly aware of and yet drags their feet about replacing. What will you do doing to address this issue when you go home to visit? How can the community help?

    1. Hello K Penner…. You definitely have an understanding what our geriatric population is up against. The situation in Montague is the tip of a large national iceberg. And, they need us. The seniors need us and if we share the tasks and the advocacy, maybe we won’t get burnt out doing it. I have no idea how the government can constantly keep letting this situation be postponed. I fear for those elders. I have some ideas in order to keep the conversation going and hope that some people will rise to the situation and maybe do rather than talk. I don’t have all the answers but I feel if the government was pressured into breaking ground now, rather than another “promised spring build” that might give more hope to a depressing wish. Thank you for writing…. All my best..

  9. alan

    Way to go, keep up the good work. I think it’s time we from Montague start to stand up and put some heat on the liberal government !! Start knocking on Allen Roach office door .Together we can make a difference !!!! Look at all the wasted money just on the E-gaming alone, same old Government. I can see Protesting soon start making sign’s, I think i am ,sooner the better!!!

  10. Hello Alan.. Thank you for reading my post. It’s so good to see what you wrote. I can only do so much from Vancouver. We need Montague people to stand up for their elders. I understand the fear that’s behind it but as you say, together we can make a difference. And, it’s true. Not trite. Yes… there is no time to waste. Seniors don’t have time to wait. I support whatever movement you can get going, Alan. Talk can only go so far. Best to you..

  11. My paternal grandmother spent her last years there, after my parents could no longer manage her care (along with us 5 kids, in an older 2 storey house, with ba single bathroom upstairs). We visited often and she was well cared for and seemed quite happy there. Among other things, socializing with friends she hadn’t seen in years).
    Sadder than the failure to build a new facility, is an obvious failure to maintain the current one. I remember when it was built and first opened. It’s not that old as buildings go. The Montague Hospital is nearly as old. I bet it’s been kept in a far better state of repair.

    1. Brenda Campbell Tesselaar

      I agree with Kent my dad was in the manor for his last few years and the floors were never dirty. Val does a great job of keeping them clean. And the staff do there best they did some fund raising and painted the common room and bought a new flat screen TV. I do agree that we need a new manor but I think it is time to stop comparing the manor to the liquor store we have seniors that are reading( yes some still read) these articles and it is depressing. If you really want to know what the manor is like spend some time there. Elderly people love to have visitors, play some music, read a book, make a puzzle help someone enjoy their time there and maybe encourage your MLA to do the same.

      1. Thank you Brenda for your comment and views. Sorry for the delayed reaction. Yes… you’re right. It IS depressing. I cry over this.

        Most of the staff at the Manor are so wonderful. I’ll never forget the couple of weeks prior to my Dad’s passing. And, the night before. I have spent a lot of time there and I know well how it is. I have slept there. I know how hard the staff work despite some challenges they have. I also know that everyone there, including the staff, deserve a much better building, better air. One that the government has kept promising. It’s hard to keep hearing a promise over and over again and it not being fulfilled. My father was a dignified man who never complained about his illness, nor the challenges he faced at the Manor (reaching for things he couldn’t get because of the room’s poor design for people in wheelchairs). lt was me, his daughter, who wanted only the best for a man who deserved it. I have volunteered my time, reading aloud to groups of seniors, and, yes, you’re correct, spend some time there and really get to know and honour the seniors of our community. We’re all going to be there one day and then we’ll really realize the value of …. being valued. All the best…
        (p.s. Yes… the floors are cleaned… just sadly stained)

    2. Thank you Kent, for your comment. I’m very glad that your grandmother was well cared for and that she was happy at the Manor. She was fortunate to have you visiting often and loving her. Love is all we really want, right? I think if some things had have been taken into consideration, like wheelchair accessibility for the rooms, the building might have been okay. But, it certainly needs some upgrading. Which the government has been promising for years. That is the hard part, being promised something over and over, and not coming through. Anyway…we’ll see what the spring brings. All the best, Trilby

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  13. Alan MacLean

    It is atrocious how our government treats our elderly. These are the people who built this country – fought and died for our freedoms and are treated horrendously in their waning years. We treat newcomers to this country better – as I hear they get language training, $4500 a month, etc etc. It’s a disgrace !
    The same is applicable to our veterans who are putting their lives on the line for us every day- they and our elders deserve better than our do politicians- that’s for sure.
    Start an online petition and I’ll be signing!

    1. Hello Alan,
      My apologies for my delayed response to you. My own frustrations in being helpless in this situation had me retreat for a bit. I’m grateful for your understanding and also your energy. I’m not sure a petition will help at this stage BUT I’m not going away and spring 2017 will be here before you know it and we’ll all be watching. And, you’re so correct regarding our veterans. Ugh… they deserve the best. PEI is not exclusive to the elderly problem. My own province of British Columbia is failing in many ways too. Because of my Dad, who I miss terribly, I will begin at “home”. All my best to you, Trilby

  14. Kent Hunter-Duvar

    It’s not just the Island government that’s done poorly by our seniors. The Federal government brought in CPP to look after our seniors. But they didn’t set it up properly. Then, when it appeared to be generating a surplus, they stole the ‘surplus’ to psy down deficit. This was money that taxpayers and employers PAID to cover pensions. Then growth slowed, population growth slowed, and suddenly, there’s no pension money and can’t afford cost of living increases.
    Had they not raided the coffers, it shouldn’t be a problem. And some of that extra money would flow to the manor and other homes.

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