Introduction to Social Work
Case Scenario- Elderly
My husband, Paul, and I had a good healthy life, when in our mid-70s, he became ill, a
bladder operation leaving him in need of a permanent catheter, the infection sometimes
affecting his mind. I became ill and had to enter a hospital myself, so our children
insisted he go into a nursing home. When I recovered and returned to my apartment at
542 Sunshine Drive, Apartment14-C, on the south side of Kansas City, I visited him. He
had been given a small room opposite a noisy laundry room, and a woman patient next
door was moaning all night.
He said he was going to jump out the window, and I told
him he was on the ground floor and could walk out. I sat with him in the dining room
with three men who didn’t talk; they had Alzheimer’s disease. The trays were metal and
noisy when handed out. He was served a huge sausage, the kind he particularly dislikes,
no knife, and a little dish of stewed fruit with a limp piece of cake on top. No fruit juice
or water, liquids he was supposed to have plenty of. In addition, he was tied to a
wheelchair, making it difficult for him to reach the table. It depressed both of us.
At a meeting with the head nurses and an accountant, in which I was asked to sign many
papers to make my husband’s acceptance in the nursing home permanent, plus pay a
$3,000 deposit in case we got behind in payments. I burst out, “He’s coming home.” The
nursing home had started out as a solution to a problem, but it had turned into a
nightmare. We could be home in our apartment, would manage some way and die
Our help at home was erratic, and our children, Paul Jr. age 45 with his three children—
Christina, age 19 at Kansas State University; Paul III, age 17 with plans to attend
Stanford for engineering; and Bella, age 16 with hopes of a new car with her newly
acquired driver’s license—and Mary Beth, our 39 year daughter, newly divorced, and
having problems with her twin daughters, Katie and Krystal, age 14—again insisted my
husband be placed in a nursing home. He needed more care and often wandered at night,
waking me up. Once he fell out of bed at 2:00 a.m., which entailed my calling Paul, Jr.
because I could not lift him up or help him to climb back in.
This second nursing home was much more elegant, with its Georgian-style architecture,
trees, garden, the room itself large and pleasant, but help here was short, and Paul was
often left in bed most of the morning. The dining room had none of the clatter of the
metal trays and the varied food was attractively civilized until one patient shoved his tray
with everything from soup to dessert, and it shot with a crash across the floor, requiring
the poor soul to clean up the mess. The patients looked normal, but one could guess,
often were not.
Then we found Dorothy, and a nursing home was no longer necessary. Dorothy was with