This is the second paper in my Women's Studies class. I did find out today that I made an "A" on last weeks paper. Woot!!! Woot!!!! YESSSSS!!!!!
Now here are my views on how prejudice has affected my life. Yes, some of this I had already blogged about but I want to put my opinion pieces on the blog for some future references so if this is an old story to you, please feel free to skip it, but I think that I have made some new points in this as well.
As outlined in chapter two there are many forms of prejudice such as gender, race, age, class and sexual preference. I am going to highlight three forms that have affected my life in just the last year or so.
The first is gender. I faced gender prejudice last year when my spouse became ill due to a form of vascular dementia. He was hospitalized in a geriatric psychiatric facility due to psychotic behavior that is hallmark to his type of dementia. Even though he was a danger to himself and others, I as his wife, was expected to continue to care for him. I remember the day quite vividly as myself, my brother, my mother, my daughter and foster son were called into a family conference at the hospital that he was court ordered detained in. There were fourteen professionals surrounded around a table to discuss his care and discharge plans. All of these professionals(doctors, nurses, social workers and assorted therapists) were of the opinion that he was safe and could be discharged home. Even though two days earlier he had multiple outbursts in front of many nurses that he was going to kill me when he got his hands on me. I had been advised by his doctor not to visit him too often as he became agitated and was aggressive. That particular day he called me in excess of thirty times with various threats as he wanted to be discharged. He was calling from the nurses station so that all of the nurses there could hear him. I called back and spoke with his nurse regarding the constant calls and threats and was told that he had "rights" to use the phone. I asked that this behavior be documented and was told that they were doing so. It was amazing to me that only two days later that these same professionals could then give the opinion that he was safe and could function on his own or as they put it "he could be trained". Thinking back, if the situation were reversed and I was the patient and he was in my position, would they have asked him to take me home? I think not. Number one, society in general feels that it is a woman's place to be the caregiver regardless of how it affects her life, health and the ability to work to bring an income into the home. My husband had been ill for eighteen years at that point and he had retired on disability due to strokes so I had been the working partner outside of the home. This was not something that I did just for enjoyment. I worked because I had to to pay the bills and to help support my family. How could I continue to work and then care for someone that was no longer continent, could not be left alone, and unable to make sound judgment decisions? Unfortunately, the decision to send him home could have resulted in a tragedy as just four weeks later he attacked me and choked me over me making him a glass of iced tea. Where were those professionals that day? The police were called, the bruises around my neck were photographed and charges were not filed as the police recognized that he was not mentally sound and competent. He could not be held liable for his actions. Less than a month later he was again hospitalized and was placed in a lock-down unit at a nursing care facility for his well being. He has been there since June of 2008 and he resides there to this day and probably will for the rest of his life.
The second form of prejudice is age. Several months into the placement at the new facility, I got a call to meet with the facility director and staff. By this time I had been on the merry go round before and knew what could potentially be coming so an attorney from the Alzheimer's Association graciously agreed to come with me as an advocate at the meeting. During the meeting it was addressed that my spouse was violent with staff and patients and that they felt he was a liability issue for the facility. They said "Mr. Delaney is too young to be here" and he would be better suited somewhere else since the median age of the patients was around seventy-five and my spouse at that time was fifty-nine. Well, let's see here. Alzheimers and Dementia can strike at any age, it is not prejudiced in the least. There are documented cases of adults in their thirties with early onset types. Are nursing care facilities only for you if you are past a certain age? Of course not! They are there when a loved one can no longer be cared for in their home. As my attorney quickly pointed out to them, you cannot make him leave due to his age, that is discrimination. I mentioned making sure he was properly medicated to decrease the aggressiveness and outbursts, and we left the facility with a new plan in place to adjust medications so that he could be calmer and more docile. Even the oldest patient when not in their right mind, can become violent and aggressive. They could not treat my husband any differently because "he's so young" as they kept telling me. The medicines were changed and increased and I have had no issues since.
Finally, to end I am going to tie this all together and point out discrimination based on class. Yes, this follows along the same common thread of my husband and his dementia but now this one falls back to me. I have found since my husband has been placed that we had to become eligible for Medicaid to pay for his care. His care costs on the average $5700.00 per month. Medicaid is a form of welfare. I also now am eligible and am receiving a Pell Grant which is how I am able to go to school this semester due to our low income levels. How is this class discrimination? Well, at least once a week I get a comment made to me about "those damn welfare people sucking off the government" or some other snide comments about public assistance. I have heard this from friends, family members, coworkers and others that do not understand what I have been through. I think most people look at me as a white, middle-aged, middle income female and feel safe when they make their judgment call about social programs. I do not "look" like the typical welfare recipient in their mind. Sometimes I will even point out to them that I am on welfare and their response to me is "well, you are different". How so? Because you know me that makes it different.
How does it make me feel? Well, for one I feel horrible that I am in this situation and cannot afford care for my spouse but let's get realistic here. How many people that you know could afford $5700 per month. I don't think many. Furthermore, we all hear those advertisements on the radio to see an Elder Care attorney to "protect you assets". Is that not circumventing the so-called system? Yes, it has taken everything that I had to prepare for the future without my spouse. I have signed over his life insurance worth $125,000 and his half of our home so that he can get the care that he needs. When he dies, I will have to start all over again. I will have my house, but whenever I sell it, half of the proceeds will go back to the state to repay the cost of his care. I do not mind it because it has to be paid and it is for his care, but that will leave me with nothing at almost fifty years old.
In summation, I am very resentful of the ones that makes comments like this. They could be in my shoes one day in the not too distant future. If it doesn't happen to them, then they are very lucky, but my point is, do not judge others by their outside appearance and assume that they think like you do. You do not know what is going on in their life behind closed doors. Prejudice is hard and it is hurtful. I feel guilty every single day for being on a form of public assistance but it is what I must do to ensure that my future will be brighter and at some point my debt to society will be hopefully repaid in full. The next time you want to make a statement about someone based on race, religion, class, or gender stop and think before you put your foot in your mouth.