By David Gillaspie
Caregiving in America is in great demand, from
adult foster home owners offering familiar surroundings, to assisted
living center staff patrolling hallways to answer assist request
buzzers and lights. Rehabilitation centers employ physical
therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and the
caregivers on site. Some nursing homes have as many as twelve
“patients” for each worker. They are all on the job and working
They all knew men like Grandpa Ken, men who
needed to stay on their feet. Some staff could assist him with a
walker; some couldn’t, but tried anyway. It takes acute balance and
lightning quick anticipation to keep someone like Ken on his feet.
My name is Dave and I met them all when my
father-in- law got Parkinson’s disease.
From one unfortunate experience after another,
Ken entered the hospital for the last time. His room had the whole
end–of–life package, his legs wrapped in circulation pumps, IV and
oxygen tubes taped in place. I was with the gathered family when I
noticed Ken’s doctor pass the door.
“Excuse me, Doctor,” I said.
He looked up from his charts and focused his
attention right on me. He knew Ken’s situation better than anyone
and gave his sympathy.
“Hello, David. How’s he doing?” he said.
“Comfortable. He’s comfortable.”
Being comfortable was the main goal at this
“I’m glad. He seems like a nice man.”
“He is. Doctor, how long does he have, if you
took a guess.”
“I can’t say, it would be...”
"I’m a former Army medic; you can tell me.”