Sunday, October 17, 2010

Music was his happy place, continued...

Click on the below article link for background information to this blog post:

Examiner article

I love the passion Joleen has and how devoted she is to helping the world. It is apparent she is one of Frank Firek Sr.’s children; he was a very passionate man and always on a mission! He and his wife spent a lot of time mentoring Detroit inner city children in a non-profit reading program they developed and maintained for years. I spent a lot of time with Frank in the business world. We negotiated our way to win-win contracts many times. And, through thick and thin, Frank was always there to count on!

When I asked Joleen if she had anything else she would like to share with my readers, she offered the below information.

In her words, “I hope that my family can make a difference with legislation on a few topics.

First off, we hope to influence changes in in-home professional care hiring standards (i.e., background checks). We have talked to key people in the Michigan government and look forward to helping with this movement. People in need should be able to depend on professionals they hire for help; they shouldn’t be afraid of being taking advantage of.

Secondly, I think the law against assisted suicide should be overturned. I think that the fact that we aren’t given a chance in this country to choose our own End of Life Strategy is ludicrous.

After his diagnosis, my father made it VERY KNOWN to friends and family that he had NO intention of going out slowly and taking everyone down with him along the way. He was adamant about taking his own life when he felt the time was right. He never shared with us his chosen means for doing this, as he didn’t want us to be held legally accountable for having known nor helped. All we could do in the matter was watch his clear mindedness turn blurry with the disease, clouding his judgment of what defined a good day vs. a bad day and quality of life. At some point, it became clear to us that he simply could no longer problem solve his way through his original plan. And we weren’t legally allowed to help. So he had to be put in an assisted living home eventually, which was absolutely against ALL of his wishes!

I believe that if a person is educated on the topic of their incurable disease and they therefore choose to prematurely end their life, they should be allowed to do so with dignity. The fact that a person’s only option to end their life (without getting others legally involved) is to do it alone is unconscionable. Why should a person who’s surrounded by loved ones in their life be forced to die alone like an injured animal? It’s humiliating. We take mercy upon even our dogs and cats and allow them to be put to sleep. Why should we treat our beloved family members differently? I don’t think it’s humane.

Plus, the astronomical figures of rising healthcare costs for the elderly, in particular Alzheimer’s sufferers, is no longer manageable. It requires too much money and resources over too long a period of time that most people cannot afford to adequately take care of themselves. And, the number of new cases are rising exponentially. (see statistics on my website)

I could go on and on about the healthcare system in this country and how they treat people with Alzheimer’s like they have leprosy but I will get off my soap box for now. It’s just that, after the way I saw my dad drugged into oblivion in the psychiatric ward against our/his will, I realize that the medical community is going about this all wrong. These people have to be treated with love and respect, not fear and intimidation. Sometimes the only thing that is still recognizable and comfortable to them is their spouse; shouldn’t family caregivers be financially reciprocated to stay at home and care for their loved one vs. throwing them into an assisted living facility where they will be a drain on limited resources, plus alone and confused…? Until a cure is found, this horrendous disease IS coming to knock on all of our doors.”

Are you supporting a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease? If so, can you relate to Joleen’s feedback? Drop me a note about your experience.

Family photo by Amanda Coulon, Focal Point, Inc.

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