We have all heard someone quip, “Well, the memory is the first thing to go! Right?” when they forget some trivial thing. But, for those who deal with forgetful, aging loved ones, it is no joke. “Warren” came to POM’s Emergency Services with an eviction notice, looking for help with several thousand dollars in back rent. He is a kind, gentle, elderly man and living alone in senior housing. He had simply forgotten to pay the rent!
For those of us who still hold all our faculties, that sounds preposterous. How can someone forget to pay the rent? But aging will do that to a brain. My own father, a rather brilliant man, asks me the same questions over and over again like he’s never heard the answer before. He’s 87. It happens.
Our Case Manager sat down with Warren and as his story unfolded, tears began to prick around the corner of his eyes. He had never had something like this happen before. “I have always been so organized. I am not sure how this happened!” he told us, “I feel so ashamed.” We sat with Warren for a while, listening, comforting, and silently crying along with him. We went over all of Warren’s possible resources. There weren’t many. He had no family in a position to help.
We called the landlord, who, it turns out, was very understanding. He had been giving Warren as much grace (bless him) as he could, but it had come to a point where they needed to be paid. Unfortunately, the amount is well beyond the means of POM (even if we leverage all of our partners in town). We were able to take one payment off his plate, and with Warren’s small income we helped him create a plan to cover the back-due rent in small payments added on to his normal rent.
But that still wouldn’t solve his underlying problem of not being able to remember important tasks in his life. We still haven’t completely solved that problem but, we are working on it! Warren was beside himself when he came in. Now, he says, the weight has been lifted off his shoulders and he is hopeful about his future. “I was feeling so alone. But now I know I have friends here; it is so comforting to know you care.” he tells us, “I was worried I would forget something else important and there would be nothing to stop it since I wouldn’t even know it was happening.”
We keep in close contact with Warren, meeting with him regularly and researching options for elderly assistance to help keep him on track. We are so grateful Warren found the courage to ask for help. We know it’s not easy, especially for our seniors who have successfully lived an independent life for many years! But, that’s simply the reason we are here; we help those who have the courage to ask.