There are few things that get me really steamed and upset. Most of the time I’m a pretty laid back type person, but there some things that I just can’t stand. and abuse is one of them. There are many forms of abuse: physical, sexual, spiritual, emotional, and neglect. While some forms are more publicized and in the forefront of our consciousness, the other forms are no less for their obscurity, and sometimes, I think maybe worse for their social silence.
I work in a busy Ophthalmologist’s office and we don’t often see patient’s with overt signs of physical abuse, such as broken eye sockets or bad black eyes. If you look hard enough however, you would be able to see the more stealthy signs of emotional abuse and neglect in some of our patient’s, especially the elderly and infirm.
A few days ago, we had a person who was very domineering towards his wife and was very rude to her (and to our staff). He would frequently cut her off, and loudly say demeaning things about her in front of her any everyone else. This isn’t unique to this couple, although they are the best example of the most obvious signs of emotional abuse that we may see in our clinic. While this domineering man is enough to make me see red and my blood pressure rise, it doesn’t make my heart ache as much as seeing more subtle signs of neglect.
A few weeks ago we had an older couple, and the wife has some dementia but needed a minor procedure to help her see better. The husband wouldn’t come into the exam room, saying that he “was tired of dealing with her.” She was quite willing to do the procedure, but we couldn’t do it because she would need to take eye drops for a few weeks, and if he was so unwilling to take care of her, there wouldn’t be any way she would get help with the drops. So she had to leave without being able to improve her vision and quality of life simple because someone couldn’t be bothered. I do understand that taking care of someone with dementia can be really taxing and overwhelming and the primary caregiver often needs a break, but this is something that hasn’t any excuse but selfishness. If you’re unable to care for someone who needs more care than you are able to give, whether that be physical or emotional care, please find someone else who can take care of them for you, even part time. To me, it is like getting a puppy, while things are going great, you take care of him. If he starts to chew on your curtains, pee on your favorite couch, or howl all night, you simply decide not to feed or water him because you are “tired of dealing with it.”
Please, if you love someone, do what is best for them, not for yourself. If you are unable to handle it, care enough about that person to get someone else to help.