Rumni Saha: Restoring HopeBy Rumni Saha
A 75-year-old woman was recently found in a nine-by-six-foot basement room in Stoughton under deplorable conditions. The firefighters who responded to this heartrending scene on a bitter cold February day reported that the heat was turned off and the woman was confined to a hospital bed — starved, dehydrated and her body covered with open bedsores. In spite of the severity of the abuse she had endured, she was conscious of her situation, which makes this story even more tragic.
How long, I wonder, did this poor soul suffer the most horrific torture and a sense of utter hopelessness? Just to give you an idea, this unimaginable condition did not develop overnight; bed sores so severe that they eat away the skin to the point of exposing the bones are formed when patients are bedridden for prolonged periods of time without changing position. Even the first responders who found her were clearly shaken and described this as “one of the worst cases of elder abuse they have ever seen.” A registered nurse and caretaker has been charged with this severe abuse.
I do not know how this case will play out in the courts; all I know is that I do not wish such misfortune upon anyone — no matter who she is or what she was ever like. I have been plagued by a million questions since the first time I saw this tragedy unfold. Perhaps you can help me. How does a person, in a civilized society, get to a point in her life where something so horrific such as this can occur away from the watchful eyes of her loved ones? How is it that a living, breathing human being is left to fester away in a basement without food or water for days on end? What happened to basic human dignity and compassion?
Unfortunately, a case such as this is more common than we would like to believe. According to the Administration on Aging, “Each year hundreds of thousands of elders are abused, neglected and exploited, and for every reported incident of elder abuse, five others go unreported.” This means that as I write this piece in utter disbelief, there are many monsters like Sandra Calixte Lucien preying on many more helpless victims like Marie Bois Belfort. Revolting but true!
This article is devoted to tortured souls like Marie who are suffering needlessly in the hands of the heartless, disguised as caregivers. Even though the situation seems utterly helpless, I do believe that every problem has a solution and we can all do our part, however small, to make a big difference in the life of another. As such, I am requesting us to make a concerted effort to check on our elderly neighbors from time to time and to also visit the Elder Abuse page from the Administration on Aging.
Let’s do whatever we can to save the life and dignity of a helpless elder who could well be a loved one (or even you or me) under the most unfortunate of circumstances someday. Think about it …
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