Tuesday Torment

Yesterday Chris rode the rails.  Did you read that post?

Well, today I rode the rails. It was a beautiful Spring rain, sunshine, and no hint of rain.  I had planned to visit my friend in the care home.  I told her this when I left a few days ago.

And here, we are so very lucky.  From the age of 65, we are all given a Gold Card which allows us to travel on public transport for free.  The stipulation is that it can be used only during off-peak hours 10 am – 3 pm. Not a problem for me.  I don’t want or need to travel in busy times.

So rather than drive, I took advantage of the public transport, and I rode the rails.

A ten-minute drive to the local railway station, where there is only one disability park and as I now have a card, I use that.  I have only once seen another car in “my park”

Ten minutes into town and then another train for a 50-minute ride. Very easy and by doing so, I don’t have to worry about those less than courteous drivers thronging our roads. So,

“Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;…

This electric train hurtles along through the suburbs, small towns and villages, skimming houses and gardens, schools, and shops.  But nowhere did I see the things Chris saw.  Homeless and desperate people I suspect tend to hover in groups and in places like shopping malls or church yards.

Of course, there was graffiti aplenty on walls everywhere, but I suggest that is another worldwide problem.

What I saw and what tormented me on this Tuesday was in the “lounge” of the care facility. My friend had been to exercise class and after the exercise (hands and arms, legs and feet moving to music) eight elderly, (well old really) people sat while the facilitator, a young man of about 50, took them through a quiz. Apparently, the exercise class and the quiz and discussions, are daily occurrences.

There were four men and four women.  Several walkers lined up outside the lounge and a couple inside with their owners. 

And it was a sorry sight.

These people were not homeless or destitute.  Far from it, as it costs in excess of $75,000 pa to be in this place.  They were obviously safe and well cared for but…

How awful for these once active, busy people to end their lives like this.  They will never live anywhere but here, and really they have only death to look forward to.  Oh yes, they can look forward to visits from family and friends, and perhaps the odd trip out with the family and friends, and an occasional outing in the people mover that proudly proclaims they are from this total care home,

Over the two months that she has been there, my friend has become institutionalised.  She eats when they say eat, showers and dresses, and retires according to their timetable, and of course, attends these exercise classes.  

But where is the active, totally interested, and interesting person who was my friend?  Gone now I suspect.  She seems only to be interested in herself, her physical presence, her ailments and not much else.  She doesn’t read the magazines I bring her, and she watches TV or plays games on her iPad to pass the time, and seriously that is all she is doing now – passing time.

I really don’t want to end my life like that.

JB October 4, 2022
Wellington, NZ

24 thoughts on “Tuesday Torment”

  1. I have seen this happen, too, and it’s desperately sad. Is there a better way to manage these homes, so that the residents (I almost wrote inmates) are able to retain their own individual personalities to the end? I used to watch the BBC sit com Waiting for God, which recounted attempts by two rebellious residents of an old people’s home to stay to some extent independent – alas, that’s all wishful thinking. No matter how luxurious, I also hope I’l never end up in such a place.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, Cat. The retirement community to which she and her late husband retired was a bit like Waiting for God, but oh this place is an institution. And I guess it has to be. My friend is well cared for, fed and watered and housed, and now seems content to be there. She has no family apart from a brother in the UK and so it was self-evident that she would eventually end up there. Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know if there are many activities in this place. I have heard only about the exercise class. I am going to ask whether they show the inhabitants/clients movies, in which case I can take all the movies that I no longer watch, to them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree. Dreadful. For my MS and PhD degrees, I studied leisure preferences of older persons (I hate the word elderly) in retirement homes. One respondent told me, “I’m waiting.” I asked him what for. He said, “Delayed signal. Train to hell.” So sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And my friend, who is going downhill very fast, said the other day that there were many things now Wong with her, but she couldn’t die. Only 3 months ago she was a self-supporting, bright woman totally involved in so many things. Now she just sits


    1. Keep moving and keep the brain active too, Jo Nell Have you discovered Upwards? It’s like Scrabble but you build tiles up to make new words. It certainly makes my brain work and I can play it on the iPad or phone

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is sad especially when it happens so quickly like your friend. However, my mom spent the last 6 years of her life in a care home. She lived to be 92. She loved it there and was so well looked after. They had plenty of activities and the caregivers were so kind to her. I always thought it would be awful to visit her there, but it was fine. (She was immobile and had some dementia but always had a smile on her face) So I guess it depends on the situation and the facility of course. The fact that your friend went downhill so quickly is disturbing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Darlene. I remember reading so much from you about your mother. And in fact I remember you ask for people to send her birthday cards, maybe it was for her 90th, so she would get cards from around the world. Unfortunately my friend is unable to do very much. She does go to exercise every morning at 11 am but that is what really upset me last week. She is now descending into inertia and apparently sleeps most of the day. When I went there yesterday she was asleep so I went out for half an hour and came back and she was still asleep. If it’s upsetting for me, I ask myself how much worse it must be for her

      Liked by 1 person

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