Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Hitchhiker

 Mean it when you ask someone, “How are you? ”
I am not always apt to picking up hitchhikers, but on this occasion I thought of the conditions that an Old man named Lloyd was enduring. When I pulled over his mentioning his age of 89 brought forth questions as to how and why he was walking in the breezy cold snow. The winter had been very cold and icy; coming to find out that Lloyd had been without water in his trailer since, only later today. This was not the only time that I picked up Lloyd. At first, the idea of an man his age would walk the distance from the Siam community to the Local Wal- Mart  had, in Elizabethton,  to have been more than a 15  mile journey one way. Lloyd mention to me that part of this he hitchhikes and part of this he walks.
  Seeing him standing this last Friday once again prompted me to pull over and give him another ride home, but to me his stories became repetitive and very imaginary, speaking of President Lincoln on many occasions, coming to Siam and having supper with his folks. Plus, at once was amused by the same stories of his folks making the first record phonograph and having the first Television off the assembly line. These same stories, were repeating, and I knew of his aging; I had been a Caregiver to my own step- father before he passed away. I ask Lloyd if he had a car, and if it would it be ok if I gave him an old van that had been sitting in my driveway, and if it would be easier for him if he didn't have to hitchhike; I wasn't using the van so I thought, if he had a license, and if he transferred the title in his name, if he could make good use of the van. The look on his face seemed to shift from the repeating stories he was used to reciting, and it filled his thoughts full of joy. It seemed to brighten his day. His remark, "That is so nice of you" made me feel happy to help. Yet, my first concern was if Lloyd would be ABLE to drive, at his age, his repeating messages to me was his days going 150 miles an hour running moonshine, and working on some of the fastest cars in the world- it didn't surprise me. So I said you can come over and see it to see if you can drive it; which, Lloyd did come over to look at the van.  I would pay tons of money to see more gleam from his eyes as I did then. It did shift his attention, from the story of having weight in the White house, and knowing all the politicians enough to make em cringe.
   My wife wasn't so pleased to hear of this. My idea, which was not totally lame brained, was vetoed by the fact that this man may hurt himself in this vehicle,  regardless of his having credentials enough to race NASCAR since its inception perhaps, but I wanted to give the guy some weight to his story and believe that he could , in fact handle himself behind the wheel. “This can be the hardest issue that caregivers face as an older person develops conditions that make them unfit to drive. It is important to recognize how important driving is to many older people. It allows them to go where they want. It is also a symbol of independence. Caregivers need to be very clear about the specific problems that they have noticed. Caregivers can look to health care providers for help. Doctors and other health care providers can help find out if there is a mental or physical problem that limits driving abilities. “(By Germaine L. Odenheimer & Medicine, 2009) My conscience took over, once again; taking my friends and families advice, I wanted to tell Lloyd that he could go to the DMV and have everything checked and make sure that he could drive, then I could take him to the court house and get the tag and transfer title. But I needed that extra item, my friend KC to help me determine this. “If I had written the report, I would emphasize to family members that you’re the best judge of when the risk is unacceptable, and you can ask the doctor to use his or her authority to say so,” Dr. Kennedy said. “We’re the ones who should take the heat.” He has written letters to patients telling them to stop driving when his advice during office visits proved ineffective; he also keeps the online forms handy to send to the state division of motor vehicles if a letter doesn’t work.” (Solutions.”, 2011)
KC and I sat with Lloyd and the same stories came, of the Lincoln suppers; the putting away of the politicians; all that pull he has within Washington, DC. I wanted to see if he really WAS OK; I wanted to know how he was taking care of himself; I wanted him to ask me in, because of my friend mentioning to me of the smell of cat urine from his front porch. I never wanted to intrude into Lloyd's life, nor did I want to suspect that Lloyd REALLY needs HELP, and it was NOTHING that I could do. After more repeated stories, I had to cut this particular visit short. Lloyd did, while I was leaving, come back and waved me into his house; for what compelled him to do this, I didn't know.  I almost started crying to the conditions that I was met with, that Lloyd was living under. He was my neighbor, and he really DOES need professional help short of disturbing his routine. I weighed the idea with Lloyd of calling Social Services and Lloyd vehemently refuses Government treatment. I asked him to let me drive him to the doctor, and he repeats where it is, saying somewhere in Roan Mountain; but he doesn't get help from any outside county agencies. When I find out of the limits of Lloyd's conversations, he is a very articulate individual and has good communication of his needs. But after seeing the conditions that he lives under, I have doubts about his continued health under these circumstances. I have asked Lloyd, because of his concerns from the local DHS, and Hospitals, to let me take him, and stand by him. He continues to remark on his good health and his conditions as OK. I asked Lloyd today if I can bring some of my fellow students to come and help him get his place cleaned from the bugs, and piling dishes, that he can't wash because of his water pipe breaking. To me, if he had someone there, he may get irate if you tried to help him. But, I don't want to go against his wishes. “Is this a good Idea”, we thought as a family? The neighbors that I talked to was the only people that could help him, but after speaking to them, and Tommy, the householder,  mentioned that he had a Father in a Nursing home and the family’s time was divided with his care.  Gordon Sumner wrote in a song that says, "There are too many cameras, and not enough food."  I am not a professional Psychologist, and I have asked Lloyd, to even have my Instructor come for a visit. (She's a first person that I thought of that would know what to do) Lloyd’s reaction was to cuss me. I want to help you Lloyd. –Edited Revised
UPDATE: Tues, February 22:  I had to take someone to the emergency room today.  All GOV offices were closed yesterday. After I asked my Instructor some advice, I also talked to a student prior to making my decision. It seemed as if I was constantly being diverted from this mission, but I thought that while I was at the Hospital I would ask another Social Worker what she thought. She mentioned to me that DHS was not the proper agency to contact in this situation. Instead, the Adult Protective services would be the best method to go. “Adult Protective Services staff investigate reports of abuse, neglect (including self-neglect) or financial exploitation of adults who are unable to protect themselves due to a physical or mental limitation. APS staff assess the need for protective services and provide services to reduce the identified risk to the adult.”  (Services, 2011)The APS re-assured me that Lloyd situation would be evaluated within a 7 day period. I asked why he wouldn't be getting immediate help, and the social specialist, with the more than one- hour waiting time for them to answer the phone during hours of operation,  helped me to understand that, bureaucratic barriers still exist. But these are not in her words.
Update: MARCH 3, 2011. Within the seven day period I learned that they found Lloyd, and to my knowledge, he is probably cussing me, and eating hot food: “Three- Hot’s -And -A- Cot.”   He’s talking up some great (crazy) stories about Lincoln and how he came to supper leaving one of the first phonographs that came off the assembly line. Some of you that have picked up Lloyd have heard this before. APS is very good about not giving me any information; it wasn't that I was asking except to know that he is OK. APS: You can tell him where I am. Maybe we can find that gold your Pappy, and you were talking about. Plus, PLEASE GIVE HIM HIS PICTURES OF HIS DEAR WIFE SO HE CAN LOOK AT THEM AGAIN. THANK YOU GOD, THANK YOU JESUS, AND AMEN.
REALLY MEAN IT WHEN YOU ASK IF SOMEONE IS OK.
Works Cited
By Germaine L. Odenheimer, M., & Medicine, U. S. (2009). The AGS Foundation for Heath and Aging. Retrieved march tue, 2011, from http://www.healthinaging.org/public_education/pef/safe_driving_for_seniors.php
Services, D. R.-D. (2011, March 23). Department Of Human Services. Retrieved march 23, 2011, from TN.GOV: http://www.tn.gov/humanserv/adfam/afs_aps.html
Solutions.”, P. S. ( 2011, March Tuesday 22). The New York Times. Retrieved march 23, 2011, from http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/driving-while-demented/