In­vest­ing in Mil­lie Pete

GA Voice - - News -

What would you do if you had all the pink dol­lars in the world? Buy a new car or home, make those long-sought im­prove­ments to your ex­ist­ing home, or take that ex­otic va­ca­tion you’ve dreamed of for years? I’ve con­sid­ered all those things too, but a re­cent ex­pe­ri­ence with my mother made me re­al­ize I’d in­vest in a whole lot of paint.

My mother, Mil­lie Pete, re­cently had a mi­nor fall in her apart­ment and the un­for­tu­nate way she landed broke some small bones in her wrist. This caused her to spend some more time in the med­i­cal re­hab fa­cil­ity where she stayed in De­cem­ber with pneu­mo­nia. In this phase of when-it-rains-it-pours for mom, she had time to see what it’s like to be an el­derly pa­tient in a strange place.

First, she re­al­ized ev­ery­one as­sumes she has de­men­tia. Ei­ther by the way they talk to her, or at­tempt to avoid her, mom says she found it hard to con­nect with the staff if the as­sump­tion was there, since no one would pay par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to what they as­sumed were dis­con­nected thoughts.

Se­condly, she was left alone a lot. Un­less she had to be es­corted to the gym for her ex­er­cise or was brought a meal, there was very lit­tle in­ter­ac­tion with the staff. Spend­ing too much time alone can be mo­not­o­nous, and can add a large amount of stress if you feel de­tached from the world around you.

Third, she was scared. My mother is pretty tough and can han­dle most sit­u­a­tions. That doesn’t mean she isn’t ner­vous, and she needs to feel pro­tected and ap­pre­ci­ated. The more anx­ious she be­came, the harder it was for her to ex­press her­self ef­fec­tively, which fur­ther con­vinced oth­ers she had men­tal is­sues.

This is cer­tainly not crit­i­cism of the staff and fel­low pa­tients at her re­hab cen­ter, nor is it a com­men­tary on the men­tally ill, since this is not an iso­lated in­ci­dent but a so­ci­etal is­sue. Dur­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence, I re­al­ized that the el­derly and chil­dren have a lot in com- mon when it comes to bat­tling any ill­ness. Both groups have a harder time ex­press­ing their true feel­ings and are seen as lesser than those of a dif­fer­ent age, and this can hin­der their heal­ing in a hos­pi­tal sit­u­a­tion. Yet a chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal is filled with color and en­ter­tain­ment, while places geared to­ward the el­derly rarely of­fer any­thing sim­i­lar.

What would I do with my money? Just as I have spent a life­time try­ing to feel in­cluded and safe, I would try to do the same for peo­ple like my mom when life isn’t go­ing their way. Her hos­pi­tal room would be adorned in bright, hope­ful hues, and the clowns, mu­si­cians, and sto­ry­tellers I hired would wan­der the halls to make sure no one is alone for too long. The life of my mother and her peers isn’t over yet, and re­gard­less of how much longer she or they may have on this earth, ev­ery­one should be treated as if they be­long, es­pe­cially when they’re sick.

“Just as I have spent a life­time try­ing to feel in­cluded and safe, I would try to do the same for peo­ple like my mom when life isn’t go­ing their way. Her hos­pi­tal room would be adorned in bright, hope­ful hues…”

Melissa Carter is one of the Morn­ing Show hosts on B98.5. In ad­di­tion, she is a writer for the Huff­in­g­ton Post. She is rec­og­nized as one of the first out ra­dio per­son­al­i­ties in At­lanta and one of the few in the coun­try. Fol­low her on Twit­ter@Melis­saCarter

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