Things I Think

Lost in a nursing home elevator — and lived to not talk about it

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

Here's one that slipped through the cracks, and I'm beating myself up about it. How did I miss the McKnight's story about Rosalie, the 87-year-old nursing home resident who was trapped in an elevator for more than a day before anyone realized she was missing? I must have been trapped in an elevator or something.

Now, you may think you know what I intend to write about this, but you're wrong. For one thing, I don't plan to be sarcastic. Not even about how the powers that be in long-term care for that part of the country took drastic and incredibly aggressive action by “reviewing and tightening” sign-in procedures.

It seems like a perfectly reasonable and measured first step, and I think I'll announce something similar next time my wife comes home late.

I also don't plan to be defensive. Not even about how this happened in Canada, the nation of my birth. I'm willing to cut that Ontario facility a break because where I grew up, it can difficult to discern whether a person is actually missing or just hiding somewhere to avoid direct eye contact.

The truth is, we are a compassionate people who care about our elderly almost as much as we care about hockey. I say “almost” because as of yet there is no “Senior Night in Canada” broadcast every Saturday evening to a puck-obsessed populace.

What I do plan to say is that we can learn so much from the elderly. Personally, I've spent many a disappointing holiday evening, including dinner for one at the Mongolian Grill and a New Year's Eve gathering at a local church where I was accosted by a five-year old who said she wanted to hug me because I looked so lonely. But I've never spent Christmas trapped in an elevator, and am not sure how I'd respond upon rescue.

My guess is, I'd emerge in the arms of a fireman or Mountie looking for scapegoats, lawyers and a TV reporter to talk to, but that's not how Rosalie reacted. According to the article, she declined all media requests to discuss the incident, considering the matter to be “over.” 

Think about that. She didn't Tweet. She didn't sue. She didn't write a scathing blog entry, or post a photo of her windowless prison to Instagram.  She just said it was “over.”

How refreshing. Kind of like a blast of cool, pure air in your face after being trapped in an elevator.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, who cobbles these pieces together from his secret lair somewhere near the scenic, wine-soaked hamlet of Walla Walla, WA. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.

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Things I Think

Things I Think is written by longtime industry columnist Gary Tetz, who resides in Walla Walla, WA. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.

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