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Jun 01

When There Is Silence

I delayed writing this post because I was very angry and upset about the topic. I thought over time, it would become easier for me to share my thoughts and feelings. I was wrong.

My Dad was injured one night as he slept in his bed at the nursing home. To be specific, he received a cut on his hand that required nine stitches. To make matters worse, the nursing home’s investigation revealed no details about what caused the wound. In addition, the digital X-ray taken in the ER shed no light on the incident since it did not find any foreign matter in the laceration.

For my family, this means that we will never know what caused Dad’s injury. Since Alzheimer’s disease took his voice, he can’t tell us exactly what happened to him. Although this is difficult for us, we can only imagine how frustrating all of this must be for him.

We accept the fact that accidents happen and that people are not perfect. In an ideal world, those who gave care to my Dad that night would have told the truth when they were questioned. This way, my family would have received closure. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

As the sun came up and the next shift arrived, Dad’s aide came into his room to get him ready to start the day. She was shocked to discover his injury. She tried to figure out what could have caused the laceration. Strangely, there was no more blood in sight. Not on the pure white sheets, blanket, or pillow case. Not on the floor, the nightstand, or the bed rail. The garbage pail in the bathroom was even empty. In fact, there was no evidence in the room at all to indicate that anything out of the ordinary had occurred during the night.

Just like special agents from NCIS, my family searched for clues everywhere in Dad’s room to help us understand how he could have received such a deep laceration wound. We later were told that the nursing home staff had also searched for traces of blood, but found none. So, what conclusion can possibly be reached?

We have reasons to believe that those who were questioned were not telling the truth. We can only assume it was because they feared losing their jobs. I wish I could turn back the clock and whisper in their ears “the truth shall set you free.” Sadly though, I don’t think it would have made a bit of difference. Fear is a powerful motivator.

Like many before me, I am here to say that it’s never okay, under any circumstances, to take advantage of someone’s disability to suit one’s own needs. The people who were questioned about my Dad’s laceration believed that withholding the truth was the right thing to do – for them. They rationalized that because my Dad is unable to speak, the truth would never come out. They live with their misdeed. We live with the hurt that they caused our loved one.

I wonder what exactly happens when people flip a switch in their minds and place their needs ahead of everyone and everything else? To take it a step further, what do human brains look like when they are being selfish? Most importantly, what happens inside their hearts?

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

6 comments

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  1. Mike

    Wow…keep up the great posts Lisa! You’re really lasering in on what caregivers need to know. I’m very sorry that your dad and your family went through this horrible incident and wish the nursing home had handled it differently. It’s incredible to me how some people can sleep at night, knowing how much hurt they’ve caused! You’re absolutely right that the person(s) responsible chose fear over the truth.

  2. Lisa Marie Chirico

    Thanks so much Mike!

  3. Melinda

    This is a great post about what your family went thru with your dad. Thanks for sharing it. We all need to open our hearts!

    1. Lisa Marie Chirico

      I agree Melinda, and thanks for your comments!

  4. colleen

    I can only imagine how hard it is to trust anyone when such a problem happens. I don’t understand how somebody could be so heartless to put a resident and their family through such a thing. You would think that the home would do a total investigation on such a situation and not just let it go. There is no need to lie about things if it truly was an accident and you truly did nothing wrong. You do not get fired over accidents. It is bad enough that these residents have to give up almost everything that they have to live in a nursing home, but then to be at the mercy of terrible caregivers and not be able to speak for yourself must be ten times worse. I know it is not much, but there are some people who do love your dad and his family and would do anything to protect him. It is just too bad that they could not be with him 247.

    1. Lisa Marie Chirico

      Thank you for your comments, Colleen. This was something that was very difficult for my Dad and my family to go through. It’s good to know that there people out there who truly care!

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