Saturday, July 5, 2014

"People with dementia see ghosts, should I get a priest?"

Yes, it's been a while since I've posted, thanks to the job and nothing really jumping out as an "I have to write about this!" subject.

Until now.

See, I do tech support for a company that supports long term care and nursing homes. Which means I get to utilize my knowledge in a way that, generally, is helping take care of some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

A lot of what I hear in the background, as these older citizens deal with the problems of getting older, some of the mental illnesses, etc. is heartbreaking. Of course, there's a lot of bingo playing and karaoke (I kid you not here) going on, as well - sometimes very loudly. And there's the people who just need a bit of help but otherwise are sharp as a tack and in great spirits - which always brings a smile to my face.

But it's not the older folks that have me writing here - though someday I may get to thoughts on mortality. No, this is a nurse. I won't say who, not that it would matter, or what facility, only that it was one down south.

They were discussing some patient in the background and how she was walking - apparently keeping her head bowed or some such. The patient could hold her head up if she wanted, but apparently she believed (from the comments of the nurses) "that ghost makes her walk like that."

This led to some discussion among the nurses (apparently it was a mean ghost, easily angered, and a lesbian to boot, which caused much tittering among the staff.) However, in the course of the discussion, the nurse who had called for tech assistance was talking about how ghosts, spirits and demons can cause problems.

Not "They can believe it," but saying it as seriously as if she were discussing medication delivery or how warm it was outside. This, to her, was a fact. Ghosts, spirits and demons can cause problems... like it's the tenth century.

Now, I was professional and said nothing - they're not calling for help with THEIR delusions, only their computer. But the fact this medical professional, educated in first-world schools, entrusted with the care of these people, was saying this... just floored me. But that itself wasn't the kicker.

Within a minute, she also mentioned "People with dementia often have supernatural experiences." Way to go, girl. You've just pinned down the cause of this poor woman's "ghost." She has mental issues (she did, actually, this is not my opinion.) End of discussion. You may "humor" her, sure. But someone with dementia seeing things and believing things that aren't real? Of course!

... Except not four sentences later, she was asking if she should call her pastor to perform an exorcism. And not in the "to make her feel better" sense - which I would fully understand. Given tone and wording, she was asking if the woman needed her pastor (not priest, not catholic) to perform an exorcism like she was asking if they should call the doctor to adjust medication.

... We have a long way to go before this sort of superstitious nonsense is eradicated. Listening to this... I honestly, despite my past, cannot wrap my head around this sort of belief any more. And it made me very glad I was not entrusted in this woman's care.

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