My wife has a friend who is struggling. We’ll call him Fred, for the purposes of this piece. He’s eighty-nine years old and suffering various health issues. He has lived alone for many years, since his wife died. It is clear that Fred’s independence is very dear to him. He was an accomplished and respected professional throughout his working life; he does not respond well to being treated like an invalid or a baby now.
I detect a tendency amongst both what little family he has and the various agencies, NHS, social services, &c. to bulldoze, meddle, interfere and disregard his wishes at every possible juncture. I think those charged with helping Fred through his twilight years are more concerned with their own convenience than his.
Fred is a good bloke to have a chat with. He is erudite and amusing, with great wealth of experience of life and people, and anecdote to match. I genuinely enjoy his company. When folk mess with Fred’s life, make callous decisions without consulting him, disrupt his home, treat him like a nuisance, he becomes morose, confused, depressed, erratic, almost senile.
There has to be a better way than this.