DEAR ABBY: My elderly mother was recently placed in a nursing/rehabilitation facility. After several months of observation, I would like to offer an open letter to those who work in such places.
"It is true I have grown older. My body won't do what it used to do. My eyes aren't as bright, and sometimes I have trouble finding the right words. But I do have a name, and it's not 'Honey' or 'Sweetie.' I have experienced much, and I have learned much. Your history books are my personal history. There is a lot I could teach you.
"You don't have to shout; I will tell you if I can't hear you. I have known great love and great tragedy in the years I have spent on this earth. I have spent decades learning to take care of myself, and it's hard having to rely on others.
"I need your help, but please don't talk to me as if I were a 2-year-old or a puppy. I'm too polite to say so, but I see when you roll your eyes or heave a sigh that says you'd rather be anywhere else but with me. These are my final years, and I've worked a lifetime to get here. Give me the dignity I deserve. All too soon, you will want the same." -- DAUGHTER IN ANDERSON, IND.
DEAR DAUGHTER: Your letter carries an important message. But please remember that the staff in nursing homes work long hours, often for minimum wage, and they all may not have been properly trained in caring for elderly and dementia patients. The work is hard, and the facility may also be understaffed.
It takes a special kind of person to do this work, and many of them deserve medals. However, if you feel that your mother's care is not up to par and that her dignity is not being respected, you should discuss it with the director of the facility.