Hazel was patiently waiting at Millie’s door. She had knocked a second time and there was still no answer. Their 9:30 am yoga class was about to start, and with one of the elevator’s currently down, Hazel was worried about arriving late. The instructor usually placed latecomers at the back of the room, and Millie’s eyesight wasn’t the best. Tardiness was not an option.Hazel considered that perhaps Millie had already headed down without her. Now, that was highly unlikely as Millie rarely did anything these days without her, but it was also strange that she didn’t appear to be home at the moment. She hadn’t called to let Hazel know she wasn’t able to make it today. It was all very strange.
Hazel arrived downstairs just in the nick of time. She found a spot in the middle of the room, and took a quick look around. No Millie. “Have you seen Millie?,” she whispered to Lorelai, who was sitting beside her in child’s pose with her eyes closed. “Last time I saw her was at bridge yesterday. Was she not down for tea this morning?” Hazel shook her head. “No. She’s been making her own breakfasts for the past few weeks. I don’t see her first thing in the morning anymore. We usually catch up later in the day for activities.” Lorelai let out a deep breath, still holding her pose with closed eyes. “She’s probably just sleeping in.”
The rest of the yoga class was uneventful. Hazel did the stretches she could manage and took breaks as needed. Her hip still gave her issues every now and again. At the end of the class, she made her way out to the common area to see if Millie had finally made her way down. She scanned the room, but it was near empty, and there was no sign of her friend. “Good morning Hazel! How are you doing this morning?” The manager was making her rounds again, a stack of papers in hand. “I’m ok, Debra. I’m worried about Millie though. I haven’t seen her yet this morning and she didn’t answer her door.” Debra let out a sigh. “We’re all worried about Millie. I hope she gets better soon.” Before Hazel could ask for any more information, Debra had already moved on to a conversation with one of the staff members and was heading into the administration offices.
“I heard she was taken last night by ambulance,” a voice spoke up from behind her. Hazel turned around to see Ruby sitting alone on the bench. “Are you sure? I didn’t hear any sirens last night,” Hazel asked, taking a seat. Ruby scoffed. “You wouldn’t. They don’t do that anymore when they come here late. Wakes us all up, and usually for nothing.” “I see,” Hazel responded skeptically. “And you happened to see the ambulance?” Ruby just smiled. “I see everything around here Hazel.”
Hazel knocked on the administration door. A young, cheery woman answered with a smile. “Hi, can I help you out?” Hazel shrugged. “Is Debra available?” The young woman told Hazel to wait a moment and made her way to the back offices. In a few moments, Debra appeared. “Yes, Mrs. Stewart?” Hazel didn’t hesitate. “It’s my understanding Millie was taken by ambulance last night. I’m not sure if it’s just a rumour, or if I should be concerned.” The site manager looked down at her hands. “No, it’s not a rumour. I can’t say much more than that unfortunately. One of our team members called the ambulance last night.” “Oh my! What happened?,” Hazel gasped. The manager shook her head. “Again, we’re not really sure, and health information is only shared between the providers and Millie’s next of kin.” “Well, why don’t you call her daughter and ask if she’s ok? Where is she at? What hospital did they take her to?” Hazel was panicked. She couldn’t believe that Debra couldn’t tell her more about her friend. “Even if I had that information Hazel, I’m afraid it’s not my information to share.”
Hazel was frustrated and worried. She made her way back to her suite, unsure of what to do. What if people had no family? How did anyone know if their neighbours were ok or not?
“Hazel, there was a call for you while you were at your class,” Charlie handed Hazel a piece of paper with a number on it. “It was Deanna, Millie’s daughter. We met her before at dinner…a couple months ago I think. Anyhow, sounds like something’s up. She sounded pretty upset. She really wanted to talk to you.” Hazel took the piece of paper with trembling hands. “Did she say what’s going on?” Charlie looked at Hazel with a puzzled look. “No, why? Is everything ok?” Hazel moved to the couch in a bit of a daze. “It’s Millie,” Hazel finally got the words out. “Oh no,” Charlie said with a heavy breath.
Confidentiality is an important part of protocol in a seniors housing environment. Information can’t always be shared with community members, which can be frustrating in situations such as the one mentioned above.
It is important that family members reach out to other members of the community and build support and communication networks for their loved ones. It is important to remember that loved ones can be strongly connected to their neighbours, who also worry about their wellbeing. Maintaining some communication with trusted friends fosters a better sense of community, especially in emergency situations or times of loss.
What are your thoughts on this week’s issue? We’d love to hear your comments.