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“I have to tell you something horrible, Marie. I was beaten this morning.”
I gasped. How could this be?
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“My body hurts all over,” he continued, his voice cracking. “They knocked me on the floor and beat me with their fists and kicked me with their feet. I wish you had been here to make them stop. They wouldn’t stop.”
He sounded so coherent and convincing that in a moment of sheer terror I found myself wondering if maybe someone had hit him. News of abuse in nursing homes flashed before my eyes and I felt nauseous. I knew mistreatment did occur in such facilities, but it couldn’t possibly happen at the Alois Center.
I closed my eyes and a vivid picture of Ed, so frail and helpless, being punched in the face came into my mind’s eye. I winced as though someone had just hit me full force. I jumped up from the sofa and started pacing the floor. I always paced the floor when I was upset.
“Six aides beat me for half an hour without stopping a moment,” he cried out. “And it was led by my good friend – my aide, June. I called out for help but no one paid any attention. No one came to help. They just kept hitting me.”
I struggled to breathe.
It was conceivable that one bad apple could have found its way onto the Alois Center’s superb staff, but not six. While one aide could hit a resident in a closed-door room, six could never hide their actions. So I was convinced that the whole story was a delusion.
Nonetheless, I was still shaking and felt dizzy. I sat down on the sofa again and collapsed into the cushions. He seemed so lucid – more so than he’d been for months – and he made this whole sordid story sound so real. It stalled me for a while until I finally figured out an appropriate response.
“Ed, I think you’re a little confused,” I said, trying to calm both him and myself. “I think you must have had a bad dream. I don’t think anyone there beat you.”
“I can understand why you’re skeptical,” he said, still sounding perfectly cogent. “I understand why you think it was a dream because it’s such a horrible thing no one would believe it.”
He lowered his voice.
“But I can assure you Kitty, it wasn’t a dream. It’s true. I have the bruises to prove it. And I have witnesses,” he said, his voice trembling. Then he resumed in a louder tone of voice, “I called my lawyer, Stuart Susskind, and there’s going to be a trial. It will be proven that they beat me. They will all go to jail for a long time.”
His tone of voice and all the details he provided made me waver. He even remembered his lawyer’s name.
I was devastated because it was obvious Ed was suffering emotionally just as much as if he had been beaten. Worse still, there was nothing I could do to make his nightmare go away. Ed was in distress and I couldn’t help him at all.
Although when I went to visit Ed the next day, he had forgotten all about the supposed incident, memories of that conversation haunted me for days.
Marie Marley is the award-winning author of the uplifting book, Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer’s and Joy. Her website (ComeBackEarlyToday.com) contains a wealth of information for Alzheimer’s caregivers.
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