@ Home in Phoenix, AZ
I took a woman, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, to Haven Senior Horizons several days ago. Haven is an adult and elderly psychiatric care facility. The woman, let’s call her Cassie, was looking forward to going. Cassie knows she has dementia and she and I talked about memory, meds and other discomforts that come with age. Our laughter was of the nervous kind that tried to hide the fear inside both of us. Cassie did seem to be comforted by my sharing frustrations with not always being able to remember details or names. I have a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment which I like to poke fun at. In my case, I see a neurologist every three or four months to check on progress. I take a med that seems to help the memory. The good news, for me, is that I was rejected for a study. My memory is too good. Still, Cassie liked knowing that she is not alone in growing old ungracefully.
Cassie has a family. I am not sure how large a family, but I know it includes at least one daughter and some siblings. She had been living with her family until recently. Cindy apparently had a little resentment about the family because they were no longer willing to care for her. With not much income she became homeless. I had talked with Cassie before and attempted to get phone numbers of family members. Mostly she was unwilling to give me any numbers except for her daughter. She said her daughter had been in a very bad auto accident recently and could not help her. We did reach a friend of hers in California that Cassie asked to help get Cassie’s personal stuff from storage and send it to her.
On the day we went to Haven, Cassie was waiting for laundry to be finished at the Justa Center. Members can have one load of laundry done a week. The load has to fit in a milk crate. Not much for a week’s wear. It wasn’t done yet so Cassie and I went to the shelter she had been staying at and gathered her belongings there. The total belongings at the shelter consisted of one carry on suitcase, clothes in a 5 inch high, 36 inch by 24 inch plastic bin stowed underneath the cot she sleep in. The clothes we placed in a black plastic garbage bag.
While Cassie was filling the bag, I looked around the shelter. It is a shelter for women located in an industrial area. The room with the beds is large with industrial lighting, cement floors, block walls and one large screen TV with a couple of couches and chairs clustered around it. I would guess around a hundred beds, all the same size – smaller than twin – with plastic bins beneath them. The only other personal items were bottles of water beside some of the bins. Outside the ground is completely paved with concrete. Another industrial building butts up against the concrete. Chain link fences topped with razor wire close off the street on one side and the concrete yards opposite to the road. Benches, various vans, some chairs with large metal cigarette ashtrays are scattered around the periphery of the yard. The temperature gage in my car registered 107 F as we loaded Cassie’s stuff and walker into my car.
I went in with Cassie and carried her belongings. Then I drove back and fetched her clean clothes. We had forgotten her small case with meds, so I retrieved that also. Back at Haven, I was told that Cassie had too much stuff and that they could not store it. I told them that Cassie would not be going back to the shelter and couldn’t store it there either. What will happen to her things?
I don’t know the answer to that. Don’t know where Cassie will go after Haven. I know Cassie has anxiety; she takes meds for it. Anxiety is common in older people and especially with dementia. I don’t think throwing her possessions away will help that. I hope she is able to keep them.
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
New International Version (NIV)
Cassie already has no place to lay her head.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
New International Version (NIV)
She is almost there; only a few belongings to throw away (or be thrown away for her) before she has nothing.