Amy, my brother and I spent Thanksgiving Day with mom at her assisted living home. We feasted on turkey, ham and all the fixins, talked about holidays and families and other things with some of her fellow residents and their families and enjoyed a good day of family togetherness.

I had worried some months ago when the decision to place mom in assisted living became necessary.  Would her health go downhill, as has happened with so many?  Would she spend her final days hating my brother and I for the decision.

But Thanksgiving was a happy, joyous day spent not only with family but with some of the new friends that mom has made at her new home.  After dinner, we returned to her apartment to celebrate her birthday, which always falls on or near Thanksgiving. Her mood was the happiest I’ve seen in months,

During lunch, however, I saw one elderly lady eating alone. I met her shortly after mom moved into the facility and she told me that her children had brought her to the assisted living facility many months before and never came back to visit her. When I asked the staff if her story was true she said that yes, sadly, it was.

Elderly health care professionals called it “granny dumping,” a dispicable habit of leaving an elderly relative at a hospital or facility that will take over care because the family either doesn’t care or can’t cope with caring for the elderly.

At a Carroll County nursing home recently, I met an 85-year-old woman whose daughter took her to Wal-Mart and left her on one of the benches in front of the store and said “grandma, I’ll be right back.”  The daughter never returned and the woman is now a ward of the state.

The lady eating alone at my mother’s assisted living facility is not a ward of the state. Her children pay the bills to keep her in assisted living. They just don’t take the time to visit. I asked her on Thanksgiving Day if she wanted to join us at my mothers table but she declined. Her caregivers say she has withdrawn from contact with others.

Her situation put some damper on our Thanksgiving Day but it also made me determined that no matter what happens in the future, my mother will not spend a single day of her alone or feeling that no one cares. Our parents deserve much more.

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