As I was going through the admitting paperwork, I signed a statement refusing her the annual flu shots and, heavily underlining my additional written statement that she was NOT to get any vaccinations without my written & notorized approval).
The admitting director looked amazed when she saw that and asked if Mom was allergic. I said no, Mom simply was not to receive the flu shot or any other vaccines.
She smiled and explained to me, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y (in case I didn't understand what I had just signed), that Mom would be at severe risk of major complications and even, with her voice lowered for effect - GASP - death should she contract the flu, especially at her advanced age.
I was fine with this (except her demeaning inflection) and, smiling right back, said I was well aware of the possible risks of the flu. I was also well aware of the risks of the influenza vaccine itself. I told her Mom hasn't gotten a flu shot in many, many years (since we began our education in the world of vaccines). It was her choice to refuse vaccines prior to her stroke and that I was continuing with her known desires.
I asked if this was going to be a problem with her being admitted. She said no, but suggested I really give this decision some serious thought, since Mom couldn't. Did I really, truly understand the risk I was taking with Mom's life?? Didn't I want ds (he was sitting there with us, reading and smiling quietly, as he listened to the propaganda) to know his grandma was being protected from catching a terrible disease and that his Mommy loves her Mommy and wants her to be safe? She said, afterall, being a good Mommy, I made sure that ds was up-to-date on HIS vaccinations, didn't I???? She actually said only a bad parent would ignore their child's required immunizations (and she winked at ds)!
I smiled and explained I was well aware of what is required and what is not, especially in our state which allows three different exemptions. I was well aware of the ingredients in vaccines and the treatments of the so-called vaccine-preventable diseases. And, in knowing all that, we don't vaccinate anyone in our family, especially ds, since he nearly died after receiving vaccinations when he was 7 months old.
Oh, the look on her face!!!
"Well," she said with an exaggerated sigh, "I hope you never have to see your loved ones suffer the unspeakable horrors and suffering of vaccine-preventable diseases. I've seen them. I remember measles and they were deadly and so were mumps. You can't imagine what whooping cough and scarlet fever are like!"
I smiled and said "I, too, remember mumps and measles (I had them the last time when I was 12). I had pertussis last year and there is no longer a vaccine in use for scarlet fever as it is treated with antibiotics (though I, too, had that when I was a baby). We are perfectly fine with our decision. Now, which room will Mom be in and can she be near the window??"
I wish you could have seen her face, it was priceless!
So, this past weekend. I was over visiting Mom. When I arrived, she was in the dining room, finishing her lunch. Sitting with her was an aide with a clipboard. Aide was asking Mom about the annual flu shot and did she want to receive one?? If so, she needed to sign a form, but she wanted Mom to know about the flu first.
I stayed back for a minute to see what transpired. The aide began telling Mom that, if she came down with the flu, she could cough hard enough to break ribs or get a hernia which could require surgery! She could get pneumonia and have to be on oxygen and in the hospital. Or, even worse, she could die from the flu, especially at her age. The hsot wouldn't hurt and was free, 'cause insurance pays for it!
Mom said (remember, Mom has stroke-related dementia and a 3-minute memory span), "Hell, no, I don't want a flu shot! Those things are bad news and I haven't had one in years! I'm not signing anything. Leave me alone!"
I just about split my sides controlling my laughter!
The aide looked shocked for a moment and started in, again, about how much she liked Mom and didn't want her to get sick....
I intervened and asked the aide, quietly, to step out into the hall with me. I told Mom I'd be right back (she looked at the aide and said to me, with a wicked smile, "Come back alone!").
With controlled anger (a low, angry voice has more power than yelling) I told her that under NO circumstances was she, or any other employee of the nursing center, to EVER ask Mom any questions as to her health care other than how she was feeling. ANY health care decisions are MINE to make, and they are to be asked/requested by the charge nurse, NOT an aide. I then asked to see the charge nurse.
When we got to the desk and then to the nurse's private office, I explained my anger about this. The charge nurse said they had asked the aides to contact each of the residents to explain to them about the annual flu shots being offered so they could understand the procedure.
I asked her to get Mom's file. She did and there, right inside the front cover, is the notation that Mom is not to receive ANY vaccinations. She said that, even if Mom had signed the form, they wouldn't have given her the shot as they would double-check the medical records first. What the aide had been doing was standard procedure.
I said I understood this, but questioned the idea behind asking anyone with dementia information that they might not be able to understand. She said they ask all the residents the same things so that none of them feel overlooked when they see the others being questioned. I just looked at her with wide open eyes and said, "Pressuring residents with fear tactics is cruel, I hope that this was just the way this one aide phrased everything and that you will explain that it is wrong. As of this meeting, STOP asking Mom these types of questions. Limit them to what she would like to eat, if she is comfortable or needs the bathroom and if there is anything positive they can do for her. Leave ALL medically-related questions to me, her Power Of Attorney For Health Care Decisions. Oh, and if she should "accidently" receive a flu shot, our attorney will be bringing it up with management."
Well, she looked pretty shocked about this and promised that it certainly would not happen. I asked that she note this conversation in Mom's medical record and requested a copy of the note, which she did.
I explained that I was angry, not at the caregivers personally, as they have been wonderful with Mom. It was about how a one-size-fits-all mentality does not work, in my opinion, in advanced skilled nursing facilities. Management needs to address this and I would be contacting them (and, that I would tell them that she had been very helpful and understanding). If aides have time to spend asking residents questions they are not in a postion to answer, maybe they could find something more useful for the aides to do. I said I was very pleased with the care Mom was receiving and happy she was in such a positive environment.
So, the meeting ended okay. I did phone them a few days later and asked when they plan on giving the annual flu shots and was told a specific date in October. I plan on being there, with Mom, that day (and the day before and after). I will also check her medical record later, in November, to see if there is any vaccination notation.
I have a meeting planned with the director of the residence in two weeks.
By the way, Mom's doctor is fine with our desire to skip the flu vaccination. He agrees that, at her age, it really isn't important. He noted this in her medical record, so they should comply. He's a sweetheart!
Christine: Mama to DS 04/17/08 *Infant Stroke Survivor* Always remembering:
Took a 'break' from TTC and look what happened: !!!! for a healthy, full term baby to be born August 2012!! Hoping for a !
AND keep after them until you get a copy of the note so that you can give a copy to our attorney.
And I would definitely keep emphasizing not only your mother's legal right to refuse the flu shot, and your own power of attorney, and her own doctor's recommendation that she not get the flu shot, but the fact that it is absolutely cruel to try and intimidate a 90-year-old stroke victim with dementia into getting powerful pharmaceutical prophylactic drugs against her will. Harp on that point! What that aide did verges on elder abuse and no resident of that facility should have to endure it.
Loving wife and mama to my sweet little son (Fall 2008) and a beautiful baby girl (Fall 2010)
When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty. --George Bernard Shaw
“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines.” - Marcia Angell, M.D., former NEJM Editor Private Parts are Private Property!
I think you did a great job!!!
They treated him with antibiotics because he was positive with the throat culture and he missed the last couple days of school that year.
Ima Sophie + D + J =
Good for you, standing up to them so eloquently! I cannot believe they did all that and you are SO lucky that you were there to overhear that aide! What UAVs. I think you handled it amazingly, I hope they actually listen to you now.
- E . Single mom to DS E (15.12.05), T (reincarnated 18.04.08) and DD A (11.02.11) and Hoppy
We don't vax in our family. I haven't had a vax since I was 5, DH since he was 12, all of my youngest kids are unvaxed, and we stopped vaxing my oldest when she was 9.
I have an almost 17yo son who has been in and out of placements for extensive and extreme special needs. Most often he is in a group home type placement with 15-20 other young men, also with extensive special needs, in one housing unit. Occasionally he has been in hospital for months at a time.
He gets the flu vax.
I *do* have very strong reasons for NOT vaccinating. But there comes a time when I have to look at the bigger picture, and in his situation, because of the communal living scenario, it is pretty A) likely that he WILL get the flu in these placements, and B) crucial that they not have 15-20 practically grown young men, ALL of whom have varied levels of functioning, ALL vomiting profusely day after day.
I am aware of and willing to take the risks associated with not vaxing my family that lives in my home, for many reasons that are irrelevant to this discussion. When a family member is placed in a full time group living arrangement where they are MUCH more exposed to diseases such as the flu, I am hard pressed to understand denying the vax in that situation. To have an elderly family member who is ALSO living full time in a group living arrangement, I can't imagine A) being confrontational about the issue with my family member's caregivers and B) denying the vax in this situation.
Also, I have legal guardianship of my father, and I make all medical decisions for him as well. He is currently in a nursing home, and has been for about 9 years now. I started out very much against his being vaccinated for flu, because he had overmedicated himself for YEARS (he was a doctor). The nursing home kindly and persistently encouraged me to allow him to be vaxed, for all the reasons they gave you.
I absolutely do decline vax's for my healthy, immuno-confident family. We've weathered several VPDs and I'm ok with that decision.
But I'm on team nursing home for this one. I hope you reconsider.
Best of luck mama
Humanist Woman Wife , & Friend Plus Mama to 6 (3 mos, 2, 9, 13, 17, 20)
i just had a convo with my grandma the other day (late 70s) and i asked her if she had seen the commercials basically making people feel guilty enough to get a shot "for their grandparent" or "to protect their children" ... i told my grandma that she was on her own i wasn't getting a flu shot and her response was, "well im not getting one either "
And the results of vitamin D supplementation is impressive.
I personally had a rough couple of years being sick constantly and culminating in a bout with pneumonia in dead of winter. My vitamin D level was in 20's. I was taking 1000 IU per day.
I upped my D3 to 10,000 IU per day (oil form not dry form) and blood tested with my doctor until it was up to 70. I now take a maintenance dose of several thousand per day throughout the year, 5,000 IU daily throughout winter. Less in summer and none if I spend the day at the beach. (You make 10,000 IU per day if in a bathing suit in the direct sun and certain times of the year only the further you live from equator.) I live in MA where you cannot even make D from sun for at least half the year. The recs that you can make enough by exposing your hands and face to sun for 15 mins is completely wrong... and blood testing shows that.
I haven't been sick since for over 2 years now. Really huge for me.
Something that came to me while reading this and the responses is the seemingly urgent need to extend the life of an already sick 90 year old woman. (From their perspective, anyway.) my grandmother is only 75, but she has Parkinson's and is cared for by my aunt and two hired caretakers. Even if she were in a group facility, I don't think they'd do the flu or pneumonia shots. There was a very good op-Ed piece in the NY Times a while back about all of the procedures and medications given to the elderly to lengthen life, and in some cases, it just lengthens suffering. We should allow our elders to make the choices they are comfortable with and not try to frighten them
into a decision they don't want to make.
Kudos to you for respecting your mother's wishes and being the guardian of her choices.
I realize I'm on thin ice with this stance in this forum, but as a nonvaxer I think it's important that misinformation, as well intentioned as it may be, be put into perspective.
Good luck OP
Humanist Woman Wife , & Friend Plus Mama to 6 (3 mos, 2, 9, 13, 17, 20)
|An analysis of the best RCTs indicated that flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-like illness by 43% and of actual flu by 58%.
Overall, the authors write, "Our findings show that according to reliable evidence, the effectiveness of trivalent inactivated influenza vaccines in elderly individuals is modest, irrespective of setting, outcome, population, and study design. Our estimates are consistently below those usually quoted for economic modeling or decision making."
These numbers are simply not good ENOUGH for many people to risk injecting the elderly.
This may make me a monster in some people's eyes and that is fine. But, you don't know my Mom. You don't know what her wishes have always been regarding her health needs and choices. Mom, when she was in the best of health did not "do" vaccinations and there is no way I would go against those wishes just because she is in a group setting or not in a group setting.
You may feel this is placing her at greater risk. Well, in the several years since she had her first stroke, she has been in group settings (retirement living, assisted living, dementia care and, now, skilled nursing care). When those around her, in group settings, became ill with influenza, pneumonia, colds or Norwalk virus, Mom stayed healthy and never suffered so much as a sniffle or upset stomach.
So, at the advanced age of 90 (she's obviously been healthy enough to reach this age!), we will not do anything to extend her life, whatever my befall her. It is simply about comfort measures from now on.
She is permanently wheelchair-bound, totally incontinent and has a 3-minute memory span. Most days, she doesn't remember any of our names (and, sometimes, doesn't even know who we are). She doesn't remember Dad is dead (as are her parents and other people she asks about regularly).
What, exactly, is the longterm quality of life that we would be offering her as regards getting a flu shot, to "possibly" prevent an illness she has not had before? She certainly will not be better for receiving the shot.
Should she get the flu, she will be cared for and kept comfortable and Nature will take its course. THAT is what medical intervention is, when a person is like my Mom. It is about respecting what THEY have always wanted.
Thank goodness our doctor believes the same thing.
P.S. I have a written statement, signed by the nursing home director and charge nurse, as well as Mom's doctor, promising that Mom will not receive ANY immunizations or any other medical treatment without my written consent.
P.P.S. The person that admitted Mom to the nursing center is not a doctor, she is a social worker.
You need to keep an eye on the staff.
My Aunt was a lifelong vegetarian who became senile. She broke her hip at the age of 85 and the staff kept giving her steak and hamburger. They just looked at me and said "She is eating it", shrugged, and walked away.