February 12, 2009

"I don't consider it to be my fault. She did not want help."

Can this not be a crime?


Jim said...

Apparently she needed him like a fish needs a bicycle. Another victim of rampant feminism.

Bissage said...

The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Harsh Pencil said...

Man doesn't talk to wife for 20 years.

Says he didn't want to interrupt. (Bada Bump).

traditionalguy said...

This is as sad as it gets. Where were their friends, neighbors, church members? Families come in all types, if you don't avoid them and become hermits on purpose. Just using a computer with e-mail can connect one to other people. As to a crime, I suspect that Washington State is an assisted suicide jurisdiction. Then he may be their hero out there. One less useless life form to get in their way. This is too sad to wake up to. His defense must be that he is pro-choice...You know that sacred freedom to chose death,as discovered in his Right to Privacy, as discovered by our enlightened Supreme Court elites by five votes. The same Court members who are determined to free us from every good and decent Judeo-christian value.

Pogo said...

Not an easy one, in my book, unless you want to institutionalize all old people prophylactically.

I have run across things like this before myself, especially the unattended bedsores and left to die stuff.

He's 82. Chances of dementia are 50%. Cognitive ability of the average 80 year old is about the equivalent of a 5th or 6th grader. The couple was married for 52 years. He did in fact take care of her, feeding and cleaning, but could not understand or manage her predicament. She probably had fractured her hip, and may have then had a blood clot from being immobile, or perhaps the pressure sore on her hip became infected.

It's not unusual that old people make ridiculous (to us nonelderly) demands on each other, like 'no ambulances' or 'no nursing home' or even 'no hospital'. Marriages of a half century are often loyal to even the ridiculous.

A mean 80 year old man would not have left her in the hallway, he'd have called the ambulance and refused to take her back.

I wouldn't be surprised if the prosecution comes to regret this case. His diminished capacity (or whatever you law types call dementia) will be evident. They'll find a simple guy who is befuddled and doesn't understand what's going on.

It will be very sad.

joewxman said...
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Darcy said...

Thank you, Pogo. Those are very important facts to consider. It is, more than anything, a sad case, I agree.

vet66 said...

Welcome to the world of the aged and infirm. Like Bissage said, they suffer from dimentia at the least and some form of Alzheimers at worst. Time has no meaning for them and they don't want to be a burden.

If they insist on living alone, a responsible adult should have at least outfitted them with medic alerts that call for help automatically if they fall. Of course my mother-in-law fell and forgot she had the device. At that point she realized she needed assisted care.

Her assisted care facility was like a hotel. Great food, friendly staff, as much freedom as possible, respect for privacy for $3,000 a month. She died shortly thereafter at 89 years of age.

She missed her home and her dog...

vet66 said...

P.S. If the aged fall and break something, usually their hip, they will usually not survive longer than 18 months.

Watch your bone density, take calcium, and don't fall down and break something. Osteoporosis and osteopenia are serious considerations in making lifestyle decisions.

Pogo said...

For most people it's hard to believe how terribly fragile some elderly lives are. Very often the old woman has the remaining cognitive skills, but relies on her man for the physical stuff. He relies on her brains because his are mush.

Together they make one person. Or 3/4ths of one. Beautiful in a way. Sad when it fails.

When children are absent, when filial piety is no longer part of the social contract, but instead we rely on the state to take over those duties once belonging to a child, this is what happens.

Where was the daughter? Gone, her job and family out of town, checks in by phone once a week. Very common. Will you imprison her for neglect as well?

Lesson for the social workers out there who think all that is needed is an ever-expanding goverment to monitor these things:
The state does not and cannot love you.
All results derive from that fact.

Darcy said...

All very true, Pogo.

I lived only 3 hours drive away from my parents, and between all seven children we saw them often. But what I now know is that we didn't see so many important things. Together out of pride they hid a lot of warning signs.

Stay as close as you can to your loved ones. It can all unravel quickly and you'll be left with a lot of pain wondering what you could have done differently if you'd only known.

TMink said...

Pogo, that was wonderful writing, both posts. Thanks.


traditionalguy said...

The real elderly at 85+ are helpless without a supportive group around them. When there is no one, they will fall prey to Caregivers who have infuence over them. What that means is that a loving group of 20+ years younger persons must be there, or they will be taken advantage of in every way. The institutional Mercy shown them in church founded organisations is then their only hope. Word to the wise: Make lots of younger friends.

Pogo said...

"Together out of pride they hid a lot of warning signs."
I'm planning on doing the same for my kids.

It was a gift to you, perhaps their last. It was done out of love, and clearly they raised lovely kids. I used to get mad at old people who did this, but I am beginning to understand. Not wanting to be a burden is an admirable aim, though one not always reasonable. 'You have your own lives' they say, and so we do.

40-year-olds, like teenagers, think they know everything about the world, but we don't. Each advancing year I understand less and less, and am grateful for more and more.

I love you, Mom & Dad!

Palladian said...

"Lesson for the social workers out there who think all that is needed is an ever-expanding goverment to monitor these things:
The state does not and cannot love you.
All results derive from that fact."

In fact, the State wants you to die because at that point you're no longer able to work for and support the State therefore you're of no use to the State, simply a financial burden. This is why both euthanasia and abortion are enthusiastically supported by socialists (not to mention fascists); It's a financial consideration. Oh sure, "well-meaning" Statists never start out with that kind of thinking, but somehow it always ends up that way when the money starts to run out.

Original Mike said...

Well, that was a depressing way to start the morning.

Darcy said...

Pogo, that was beautiful. Thank you.

Let me amend: Together out of love they hid a lot of warning signs.


bearbee said...

Perceptive comments.

With their absence article illustrates the importance of community and church.

With the deepening economic recession and possible depression community and church become even more critical.

Government is no solution.

re: bone density and calcium, don't overlook the necessary vitamin d.

Palladian said...

"With the deepening economic recession and possible depression community and church become even more critical."

Good thing we have a community organizer as President then!

Too bad about the church thing...

Skeptical said...

I do like the fact that one of the sponsored links is for a "Diet Endorsed by Rachael Ray."

John Burgess said...

Pogo: Can you provide a cite for your statement about 80-year-olds and the cognitive abilities of 5th or 6th grader?

Maybe I know only the outliers of that age group, but most of the ones I know are pretty damn sharp.

I'm not saying you're wrong, but asking for the research behind it as it's an issue that is becoming more pertinent to me with every passing day...

Leland said...

I agree with Pogo. I couldn't have written it better, it is good summation of what I found to be good arguments in the man's defense.

One problem though... if he feed her, gave her water, and bathed her... why was she naked on the floor? It's the middle of winter in Washington State. It hasn't been above 40F there since the end of January. If he was cognitive enough to know she needed food and water, then why not clothing?

mariner said...


I've been reading this blog for several years, so I've read many of your insightful comments.

These are among your best.

Thank you.

Bender said...

Yes, yes, the refusal of medical treatment is a FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT!!!

But, you silly man, only doctors and lawyers are allowed to kill people this way. Only doctors and lawyers are allowed to kill by medical omission, to even kill by starvation and dehydration.

Pogo said...

The best reference I can find is the 15th volume of the American Psychiatric Press Review of Psychiatry By Leah J. Dickstein, John M. Oldham:
page 184

Jeremy said...

I don't understand the bail requirements. He's not a flight risk and he's unlikely to commit the "crime" again. What's he gonna do? Get remarried and leave his new wife on the floor for 10 weeks?

Pogo said...
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Joe Hogan said...

I think Pogo has said it brilliantly and is exactly right. This was a tragedy, not a crime.

Was this event preventable? Maybe. Can all death be tamed so that it only happens in a way that is peaceful and serene and in the fullness of time? No.

This may be a glimpse at the edges of the possible. No matter what institutions societies craft, the universe cannot be perfected.

Pogo said...

Sorry; the overkill was meant for John Burgess.

MadisonMan said...

I agree that this was not a crime.

This could be my parents in a couple years -- I don't think the decline in cognition is quite there yet. I'm the closest to them, 700+ miles away. (Well, my sister's kids are closer, but 30-year-old single men aren't gonna have time for their aging grandparents).

My own opinion is that my parents' ability to be on their own -- call it pride -- is something that keeps them going. (Maybe I'm rationalizing). And I have learned of trips to the Hospital after the fact. So I wait for the inevitable phone call, knowing that some day it will come.

blake said...

Isn't there already stuff in stimulus bill encouraging burdens to the state be given less medical care?

jdeeripper said...

"She didn't want me to bother you."

And now for the cheap shot.

Kirk Parker said...


"30-year-old single men aren't gonna have time for their aging grandparents"

What a pity, if true.

jaed said...

I have a bad feeling that in the alternate universe where the husband called an ambulance when he discovered his wife on the floor, she's also dead - but she died in a hospital or hospice, of denial of food and water, sedated and opiated to the gills to take away her appetite, prevent her from understanding what was happening, and avoid upsetting the medical staff. Futile care, you see. Quality-of-life determinations. The hospital bioethics committee met.

Maybe the way she died is actually less bad than the alternative. At least we can see it as a tragedy and be horrified, instead of nodding sagely and calling it "evolving standards of appropriate end-of-life care".

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Very sad. I see this as a symptom and result of our modern society where we no longer live in extended family situiations. In "olden" days even in the last 60 years it was common for multi genrational households to exist. Today, we all live in isolation from our families and only check in on major holidays.

Perhaps with the economic contraction, we will see the multi generational households again. This would be one upside of the coming depression.

William said...

I second the motions affirming the wisdom of Pogo....My quibbles: The last year or two of your life is going to be hideous. That's if your lucky and live to be very old. My mother lived her last ten years in an excellent nursing home. She enjoyed bingo and TV and the gossip she heard about the other residents. It wasn't such a bad life. The very last year she was vague and bedridden. She developed decubiti ulcers. She was in constant pain and was just as glad to die. That last year was very bad, and I do nor see how it could have been otherwise.....I have known other old people who lived in multi generational homes. Their social security check was taken to cover room and board. The adults that surrounded them were preemptory and abrupt and sometimes contemptuous. Their life probably would have been better in a nursing home.....I am grateful to my father. He was a mean drunk and drank himself to death at a relatively young age. It was not necessary to make any hard decisions about his elder care or, for that matter, to even mourn his death. If you wish to free your children of guilt and sorrow about your declining years and demise, be a bad parent.

Pogo said...

Ah, but despair not.

Your query is an ultimate question: What is this suffering for?

It's a 'meaning of life' issue.
Why this arc from helplessness to helplessness?
Why is dignity refused me when I want it most?
Why the struggle, the growth and decline, the entropy, the pain?

There are things to learn for the dying and their family both, things worth knowing. Hard things, but valuable.

I believe that how we answer the problem of suffering is one of the most important tasks in our lives. Some answer this by escape through drugs, others find solace in religion, or in family, in work, in books.

But aging strips away all defenses, save a few. Those few permit a death that has meaning, which surpasses dignity.

Michael H said...

@Pogo- Thank you. This..

"I believe that how we answer the problem of suffering is one of the most important tasks in our lives. Some answer this by escape through drugs, others find solace in religion, or in family, in work, in books."

....is now posted on my refrigerator door. And committed to memory.