Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sad Stories

One day last week I read (on my Kindle 2 of course) an AP story carried in the local paper about a Minnesota man, Verne Gagne. Verne, who just turned 83 on February 25, has Alzheimer's (or possibly some other dementia) and was involved in an altercation with another resident of his facility on January 26.

The other man, Helmut Gutmann, was 97 and subsequently died on February 14 from his injuries. He also had Alzheimer's.

Mr. Gagne was a well known professional wrestler before his memory loss. Neither man remembered what happened after the altercation.

Mr. Gutmann's death was ruled a homicide but the authorities declined to charge Mr. Gagne.

One of my blogger friends posted an entry on the same day.

Here is a link to an AP story about the incident.

The very next day I read an article in our local paper about Mr. Lester Pendegraft, 94, of Norman, Oklahoma being charged with rape. Mr. Pendegraft was living in an Edmond, Oklahoma nursing home when the rape occurred. He was stopped by attendants but the family of the victim was not immediately notified. The daughter contacted a victim rights group that was able to get the police involved and charges were filed against Mr. Pendegraft.

Mr. Pendegraft was moved to a Norman nursing home where he died on Monday, March 2nd. Authorities have dropped the charges.

In the second incident the ailment of either party (I find it hard to make myself write perpetrator) is not reported. It is obvious from the report that both people were suffering from something.

I thought that no matter what Mr. Pendegraft had previously done in his life, and I do not know anything about him; and, no matter who all had loved him; and, no matter who all he had loved; that all of that would now be forever eclipsed by the record of this one act near the end of his life.

That's bad enough without even considering the very real possibility that Mr. Pendegraft, had he been in his right mind, would be terribly grieved of his own action.

My father would have been mortified had he done something like that, if he had his right mind which he did not. And make no mistake about it I think that is a very real possibility had I placed him in a nursing home. That was one of the reasons I so stubbornly refused that option in fact.

Or he could have been like either Mr. Gagne or Mr. Gutmann. Both of those men now will be remembered for something nearly incidental to their history except that one man died and another caused it.

I think I shared before that one of the fears I had with my dad was that he would be away from me and some policeman or citizen would shoot him or hurt him because of his inability to control his own actions.

I had not thought of any of these things for a good long while until I read these two articles.


dave said...

Terry, may respectively disagree with you a bit?
My father in law in his old age made serious passes at a lot of women, was found in bed with one in the nursing home.
Truthfully he could not have done much in line of sexuality but his mind did not let that go He was old.
When I look back at his life, that incident is way back in my memory. I remember other things, the rosy cheeks he had from working outside in his orchard. His years with Parkinson's. but that lack of discretion i the nursing home has receded.
With my precious Miriam, when she does crazy things, I remind myself that it is not about her, or about me, or about us, it is about the disease.

rilera said...

I hate this disease and what it does to the people it claims as victims. I think my mom just could not bear the loss of independence nor the fact that it was so painful for me to watch her like that. She took matters into her own hands I'm sure of it.

Lori1955 said...

These truly are sad stories and frankly out of respect for the families, I don't know why the media even printed them. These were not hardened criminals, no one was going to jail, so why did they even bother. The poor families must have been horrified.

~Betsy said...

The fact the media has reported these stories without any responsible discussion about dementia and how horrible the disease really is doesn't surprise me one bit. I find myself still tirelessly trying to educate people when the opportunity presents itself. There is nothing like caregiving for someone with dementia to open ones eyes. I just wish more people would understand the disease process and that those afflicted truly aren't themselves.

So sad.

Stacey said...

wow. after reading that and all these comments, I feel more educated. Lanny's dad is caring for his wife in a similar situation, and I forget to pray for him regularly, but God has my attention!