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The Care System,

Updated on May 15, 2011

This can not be right.

This story that I am about to share with you is true. I am going to change some of the names to keep identities private.

"Come in Annette," the familiar voice called from the bedroom. "I am just about to get out of bed to prepare my tea".

I glanced through the kitchen door as I passed, dreading, but also knowing what I would see. I had hoped that it would not be so, but alas, the same sight met me from the door. The beloved dog had pe'ed all over the kitchen floor again, causing a free flowing sloppy mess of faeces and pee heading slowly, defiantly towards the washing machine. As usual I stifled a mouthful of vomit, and just walked on past resigned to the fact that I would clean it up later.

Audrey met me at the bedroom door. I noticed how frail she looked, so tiny and vulnerable in her pretty pink pyjamas. Her hair had not been brushed today, and she had her scarf wound snugly around her neck to keep out the cold. The bed would need changing, and I cringed at the sight of the over full commode. It contained two days of human motions, and it smelt like a skunk had been a calling. It was all I could do to hold my breath whilst taking the commode pan to the bathroom to empty.

I noticed Audrey's flushed little face, and couldn't help but think to myself how pretty she must have been in her younger days. He skin was like peaches and cream, smooth and fragrant from the creams that I had rubbed in to her on my last visit, Friday evening. She was so petite, and spoke quietly with a sincere tone as only she knew how.

Audrey made he way very carefully into the small kitchen, and I breathed a sigh of relief that she had decided against sitting in the large kitchen at the rear of the house. Watching her walk with so little strength tore at my heart.

Audrey had been a lady in her time. She had worked very hard to look after her siblings, and had made the sacrifice of her own life for them with such good faith. She married late in life after both her parents had passed away, and all the siblings had grown and married. Never thinking very much about her own welfare, just happy to care for those whom she loved.

I was her main carer, visiting her three times daily, but at weekend her younger siblings where supposed to care for her. I say with tongue in cheek, because no one had been to visit Audrey in my absence. 

I woke up this morning feeling very uneasy, I didn't know why, but I knew that I had to pay Audrey a visit. Now I had been and done her shopping in my own time on Friday to make sure the fridge was full of nutritious food. Audrey is a vegetarian, like myself, and I had been sick of catching her eating bread and jam. A habit that she had got into when her husband had passed away.

Rambling around in her huge house, like a pea in a drum, Audrey was such a timid little figure that she was an easy target for the criminals in the area. Nula, the beloved German Shepherd, had the fiercest of barks, but was very old and slow, just like Audrey, and the two of them stuck together like glue.

I was so shocked to realise that Audrey had been left alone for the weekend. No one had called on her, no one had come to make her something to eat, but worse, she had run out of oil and the house was like a fridge. As usual Audrey gave me that pretty little smile that I had grown to love so much, she never complained, in fact her heart was so forgiving that she just commented "Oh they must have been busy".

What is a carer? Please tell me. What is family, for I do not understand that term either, especially when I spend so much time with lovely people who have been left out to dry. Is it so hard to ask for sympathy and understanding? Are we such a Nation of people who are self obsessed with our own lives, that we can not care for the elderly who influenced our own up- bringing so much?

I made Audrey her tea, potato croquettes and roasted root vegetables served with fresh apple juice and a lovely warming mug of tea. I tidied her kitchen, cleaned the bathroom and mopped the kitchen floor. I fed the dog and changed Audrey's bed, leaving the electric blanket on to warm her tiny tired body.I sat and chatted with her, and smiled at the warmth of my reception that she graciously allowed me. And I am the lucky one for being able to share my life with such inspiring people. Please, the next time you meet someone just like Audrey, try to remember that having a bus pass doesn't stop you from travelling.


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    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      7 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Hello my darling epi, thank you for your amazing support Colin, thinking of you my friend, sending big hugs.

    • epigramman profile image


      7 years ago

      ....well I know you to be an angel in my life - and only an angel (like you) could tell a story as heartwarming and as sincere as this ........

    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      7 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Hello Bethany, I don't envy you working in the residential homes. I have worked with the elderly for many years, including the home situation and it broke my heart. Working in the community has it's plus points, as you can always do your best for a client without stepping on toes or crossing the boundary of rules and regulations. However, I admire you for taking the time to devote so much of your life to aid the comfort of others. x

    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      7 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Leelee, thank you sweetheart for your comment. I work and live in awe of so many beautiful elderly people who I meet, and I love my job but it is really emotionally fuelled at times.


    • BethanyLynn211 profile image


      7 years ago from Bangor, Pa

      I, myself, work as a home health aide and in a nursing home. I myself find it to be a disgrace how people treat the elderly as well. However, I can tell you are a prime example of what it could be like if we as a society would take the time and show compassion rather than distaste for the elderly. Too often are they passed by or dismissed but it is people like you who make a difference each day by doing the smallest of tasks.

    • Mrs. J. B. profile image

      Mrs. J. B. 

      7 years ago from Southern California

      What a beautiful story. Really makes you open your eyes and think about the elderly. I loved it.



    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      7 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Hi Sharyn, it is a disgrace how we neglect our elderly in the community. We forget that those elderly people used to be important members of a family, friends and neighbours and just because they have got their bus pass, does not deem the useless. I find their company so entertaining and inspiring, and as long as I can help, I will be there. Thank you for stopping by. xx

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 

      7 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Oh dear Blue, I can relate to this so much from experience. The best job I have ever had is taking care of elderly people. I believe mainly because of my need to feel as though I am making a difference in someone's life. I do worry about when I get older and am in need of care since I do not have any children. Although, family does not always step up to the plate when needed. I can only hope that my generosity will be returned when I need it most.

      This is an extremely important topic that you wrote about here. Thanks!


    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      7 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Hi Peg, thank you for stopping bye today. I am actually in need of a friend. I am often so disappointed by my faith in human nature, and no more so when I come across the gross negligence of a fellow woman or man. I know we are all different, but we have one thing in common a mother or mother figure that we look up too. Some one who pats us on the back and leads us by the hand out of harms way. Someone just like Audrey, who has paid her dues to this world and was once a vibrant and intelligent woman.

      It often throws me of course when I witness the inconsideration of the elderly. Thank you for your support. x

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      7 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Hello Annette - Your story tugged at my heartstrings this morning, so beautifully written and tragically sad. Thankfully, you are there to look in on your lovely Audrey and bring joy and comfort to her from time to time.

      My Auntie turned 91 in April and she's a blessing to have nearby. Her dog is 13 and her most faithful companion. I know it keeps her going. May God Bless you for the kindness you give.

    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      7 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Good Morning my dear friends, I wish I could say that it is a lovely sunny day in Ireland, but in fact it is miserable. Thank you all for commenting on my hub. I am afraid that Audrey is not the only one person on my client list who is left to fend for herself. The irony of this situation is that she has money and owns a lot of farm buildings as well as two big houses. As far as I am concerned the family in this instant just want her in a home, which will finish her altogether. It makes me so cross to think that a family such as this are only after one thing, money. It is a well known fact that the elderly do better in their own homes, with care, then they do in residential placements. I think people are so callus when money is the only thing that they live their lives for. It is a total disgrace. Much love to you all xx

    • attemptedhumour profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      Hi tbs, my wife is a social worker and used to be a geriatric nurse. She ran a 44 bed special accommodation home for the elderly at the age of 22 and fought like crazy with the owners. They just looked at the bottom line and had no empathy at all. Audrey is lucky to have you as a carer. Some families have one member who carries the torch, but it appears that Audrey has to carry hers almost alone. The traditions of family life get more and more diluted as we 'progress'. Good for you though. Cheers

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      7 years ago

      Such a wonderful reminder that we need to step up not only for our own families but neighbors and people who need assistance..Thank you so much for writing this hub. Truly sad but lovely..You have a beautiful heart. Our nation has failed our elderly in a horrific way. Being a nurse I have worked in the nursing homes and realized there were more elderly all alone and left to die than ones with family..Oh God help us all, for surely we will all be there one day.Plant the seeds now, while there is time. God bless you.


    • BobbiRant profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      Yes, my Dear, in this upcoming generation, it may be too much to ask for caring and empathy. How well I know. A very eye opening hub, indeed. Let's hope many read it. Well done.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      7 years ago

      What a Sad and Beautiful Hub, my friend...Sad, because it is oh so true. Beautiful, because of Someone, like YOU. We all know an Audrey and watch out for them because "they" are the forgotten ones.


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