An elderly man was laying in his bed for over 24 hours, refusing to eat or drink. He is in his 80s. His wife, also in her 80s, became annoyed and called her neighbour to convince him to eat. She trusts her neighbour and so does the frail man. The neighbour shocked at the state of the man insisted that he needs medication to control his high fever. The elderly woman said she has no medication at home and after an hour of deliberation, phoned her son to bring some home.
Their forty year old son had recently moved out of his elderly parents’ house to live with his girlfriend and her two children. The burden of elderly parents had become an inconvenience for him. Regardless, his parents worship him.
The neighbour insisted that the man needs medical attention from a doctor and at his age calling 911 was an appropriate response. The son sternly informed his mother that his father was in no need of a doctor.
For a few days the neighbour tried to convince the elderly woman to call for an ambulance as the man’s health was deteriorating. Half of his body was paralyzed and he had to be hand fed liquids. Moreover he was exhibiting the symptoms of pneumonia. At every attempt the son insisted a doctor was unnecessary.
The neighbour finally convinced the woman to call for a doctor to make a house call. The doctor shocked informed the elderly lady to call 911 within 4 hours if his condition does not improve. When the son learned that a doctor had made a house call, he scolded his mother, clearly expressing his disapproval. No more doctors were called for a week. The man’s health deteriorated. Other children visited their parents and ignored their father’s frail health.
About 8 days later the elderly couple’s social worker decided to visit them. She walked into the house and was frightened at the state of the man. The social worker had neglected her duties for over a week and her client was near his death. The frightened social worker phoned her supervisor and was advised to call 911. The elderly woman called her neighbour for support.
The paramedics arrived and found the situation to be unbelievable. They learned that the couple’s son had been witnessing the disaster and refused to call an ambulance. They scolded the elderly lady for her and her son’s bad judgement and rushed the elderly man to the hospital.
The elderly man has not returned home from the hospital. The man’s health at the hospital continues to deteriorate because his treatment started very late. The doctors predict no hope for him.
Background on the elderly couple:
The man has dementia and schizophrenia. He has been prescribed medication to control his outbursts. His wife uses the medication as a tool to sedate him whenever he annoys her. She frequently over doses him. Her neighbour continuously tells the old woman to use the medication sparingly. The old woman pretends to not understand her.
Background on the case worker:
The case worker has been assigned to the couple by the government to help them a few hours a week. The woman assigned to the task has rarely had contact with her client. If it were otherwise, the case worker would have called for an ambulance the day the man became ill. This behaviour and relationship between the case worker and her client is very common.
Background on the neighbour:
The neighbour is a house wife. When the elderly couple was a bit stronger they would go for a walk around the neighbourhood daily but as they aged, the elderly woman could not keep up with her husband. On several occasions the man walked out of his house by himself and was seen crossing the road on busy intersections near by. The neighbour informed the couple that she is willing to volunteer her time and take the couple for a walk whenever necessary to prevent the man from getting lost. She visits the elderly couple daily to ensure they are well.