“You’ll never have to worry about where you’ll live again for the rest of your life.” That was what the administrator of Four Seasons told 94 year old Marie Fredricks nearly 3 years ago, and the retirement facility had been her home ever since. For so many of the older generation, the stories are the same; they try out a home for a while, looking for the perfect place to spend their remaining years, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. For the families, it is always a blessing to find a place where their loved one is happy and safe, though finding that perfect fit can be tricky. Four Seasons was Marie Fredrick’s third care home facility, so when her family received a phone call late in the night on Sept. 2, informing them that they had until the Sept. 4 to move her out of the building, they were shocked. They were given a choice to either remove her from the facility or pay daily rent until she did move. Four Seasons had sold their business to Pacifica and they were ridding themselves of all the residents who were supported by Medicare or Medicaid. On Sept. 4, they evicted 15 elderly from a single house.
Unfortunately for Marie Fredricks, this was not the first eviction incident. One day, while still established at her first care home, she had managed to cleverly bypass the security system. Being in her 80’s and often racked with dementia , this was an impressive feat. Convinced that she needed to make it down to the beach to watch her children swim, she found her way over to the neighboring hotel. There, she pleaded her case with the hotel manager who was about to waver when Marie’s physician’s wife happened to be driving by with her children and spotted Marie. Realizing that something wasn’t quite right with the scene, she pulled in and confirmed that it was in fact Marie. With much persuasion, she convinced Marie to return to the care home. That night around 10:30 p.m., the family received a phone call telling them to come and pick her up; that Marie had become to bothersome to the staff and other residents.
With her second attempt at a home gone terribly wrong, the hope that Four Seasons could finally be “it” disappeared. The place she thought she would call home until she passed from this life had betrayed her. If Marie were lucid today she would fill your head with stories of her parent’s immigration from Norway. She would tell you that her parents refused to teach their children Norwegian because they were American-born and believed English was all they should know how to speak. Marie would regale you of her days as a child during the great depression when a simple apple was treasured as highly as gold. In the past it was common to find her blending vivid colors on the canvas to bring her artistic creations to life, or knitting and crocheting masterpieces; things of real beauty. Frequently, she would offer her skills to anyone who wanted to learn, free of charge. For her, it wasn’t about financial gratification but instead about passing along her skills to people who would appreciate them.
For some, It’s easy to forget that our elders are still people, especially when they are lost in the space of memories born long ago and see another’s face when they look at you. A woman who worked for NASA and a man who had served in three wars were among the people removed from their “homes” with Marie. But since they had run out of money from their own pockets, they were driven from the place they called home; driven away from faces that had become familiar and from the chance to live a stable life.
It is sad that there isn’t much to look forward to when we get old and our minds fade, for in so many situations it isn’t the humanity of people that will allow you to live a comfortable life, but the amount of paper in your wallet. Even then, elderly abuse happens more often than society would like to believe. Forcing an old woman to sit in her own waste while the aid has gone on her half hour lunch break is commonplace. An older gentleman asks for a fork to eat his cake and the aid who can’t be bothered instructs him to just eat it with his fingers. It shouldn’t be the price of care for our elders that continues to go up, but the quality of care. These are the people who carried us through today, they shouldn’t have to worry about their care for tomorrow.
By: KyAuna Alonzo