Saturday, June 23, 2007


6/24/2007 8:30 P.M.

After I finished posting the blog last night, I turned my phone back on and found 5 messages from the elder I spoke. 1 was a "remembering" about who the cancelled $10,000 check was written to, and the other 4, accusing me of stealing the 'cancelled' check.

The accusations broke my heart and at the same time, I reacted with anger.

You see, I am not trained to help the elderly rebuild their homes in a disaster zone, who may have onset senility, and PTSD. And in this situation in the last 24 hours, I have done a poor job at serving. I am not a professional and as a result, I took it personally and then got frustrated.

This morning, I received 2 more calls. My heart ached for this person who is suffering so greatly, whom I don't know how to help.

After about 20 minutes of going through where the check was located and the finding of the check, I shared about how I felt betrayed yesterday and how the calls accusing me of stealing the cancelled check hurt me. I pointed out the absurdity of my taking a 'cancelled' check. I told this person that I believed that they are so stressed and overwhelmed that I feel they are forgetting essential information and creating an unsafe environment for me to help any longer. Then I gave examples form this week concerning the repeated calls and the accusations.

Here is the most heart wrenching thing. This person did not remember making the calls last night and accusing me. I told them I saved the voice mails.

Oh my God, my heart truly in angst, cried out. "This person is suffering so much and I can't help them. "

I suggested that I would call the Council on Aging on Monday and advocate on their behalf for a social worker to come out and help with the enormous workload of paper. This did not go over well.

We both ended up crying on the phone. The elder began first, crying and explaining due to the overwhelm, exhaustion, and confusion they did not know what to do anymore. I cried because I felt their pain so deeply, and feel my own helplessness in being able to serve in this situation.

Later in the day, the elder in question called me again as if nothing had ever happened between us, looking for another piece of paper, telling me that I was the only one who touched it. (And I now know in their mind, nothing did happen. It is too much to remember. And so I spent another 10 minutes telling them where it was).

After I assured them where it was, I suggested they go pick up their medications and then rest for awhile. I shared that I believed for them, with a rested mind and body, they would be able to find the papers more easily.

I tried during these conversations, to relate how I felt that it was unsafe for me to continue to help, as this elder was forgetting where things were, then getting into a pattern of calling me repeatedly and accusing me of stealing what ever the elder had lost in that moment. I told them a few time how I felt a social worker who was trained to work with the elderly, would be much better than myself, as a trained professional they would not get frustrated as I have in the last 24 hours and become reactive. The elder disagreed and said that they would pray to God for help and "do it on their own".

I pointed out to the elder that they were "doing it on their own" before I began helping them and that the Road Home Recovery letter and other important letters had sat unattended for months as they were overwhelmed. I advised that someone helping them who was a professional would help the process go faster and might open other doors for them.

There was nothing to it. This senior citizen is in a precarious place in their life. The symptoms of the PTSD in my uneducated opinion, seem to be exacerbating the symptoms of "forgetfulness". The PTSD, the powerlessness and fear this elder must feel when they recognize that they are forgetting important things or conversations must be so frightening. I have also been told (by the elder) and witnessed, that they are also suffering from depression.

This elder is alone. I am going to try and advocate on their behalf and get them help.

Yet I know in doing so, someone may do what this elder fears the most - what they have spoken to me about many times - being "put away" in an old folks home.

I have wrestled all day in my heart concerning the consequences of my actions on advocating for a social worker to help this elder.

I have asked myself, "who am I to interfere in their life, what if finding a social worker brings about what this elder fears the most?"

"Yet if I don't advocate and find this elder help, I am not helping someone whom I am watching mentally fragment and break down due to the stress of living in the FEMA trailer, being alone, trying to rebuild on their own and losing the where-with-all to do it all or to remember what to do next or where the paper they need is."

My heart has been deeply grieved all this day. I spent 8 hours researching and creating the PTSD-NIMBY post as a result of wanting to help and not knowing how to in this situation.

This is only one elder out of thousands going through this in this city. Many of them are dying, wasting away, not getting the food they need, the care they need. They are living in gutted out houses, experiencing isolation and PTSD and not getting the mental health services they need. Family members have also been affected. So many are suffering here.

We need so much more help down here. The government, (local, state and national) is not helping those who are suffering in "real-time". Often the social workers are overwhelmed by their case loads. There are not enough mental health clinics and doctors to treated the hundreds of thousands who are suffer from some level of PTSD.

125,000 homes were destroyed by Katrina/Rita and the failure of the levees.

Those who are helping need more support. We need more people down in the devastated areas on the ground helping. There are still houses that have not been gutted. Those who are suffering need more people here to help them rebuild their lives. As people go untreated for mental health conditions, the crime rate rises, the suicide rate rises and the
death rates are rising.

God, Jah, Divine Creator, Allah, Beings of Light - please, send more help.

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