Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Helpless in America

This is my aunt Leni, my mother's older sister. (With me enjoying family photos last September and sharing a beer in 2001,with Mom in their beloved "Salzkammergut" region of Bavaria, and with Aleks and Kat many years ago.)

Leni has always been a very important member of our family and has always been included in family events and holidays (to the extent possible), even though she lived far away from us, in Germany. Leni's huge heart showed us the meaning of kindness and compassion, and Leni's financial generosity allowed us to attend school (she paid for a good part of my Stanford education), buy houses (she helped us get back into a house after the housing market crashed in the 90's), and participate in important cultural opportunities (she paid for our trips to Germany on numerous occasions). But Leni never cared about money or things beyond how they could be used to help others. What meant everything to Leni were kindness and love and joy -- and what joy she expressed every time I visited her... from joy as we hiked (back when she was more mobile) in her native Alps, to the joy at enjoying photos of her extended family, as she was doing in this picture, taken just a few months ago.

But right now Leni sits alone in a modern, but very sterile care facility near her Bavarian home. She doesn't want to be there, but she is -- and right now there's absolutely nothing that I can do about it. Leni is far from senile, but the others there are suffering from dementia so she is completely alone. She is scared and lonely, and she is being taken advantage of -- emotionally and financially (but hopefully not physically).

I can't get into additional details here, but I am so upset I can barely see straight!

If my mom were still alive, she'd be furious. Thanks to my niece, who lives in Germany and knows the legal system there, help may be on the way, and I will be in daily touch with her. But I am willing to fly there, if necessary, to make sure Leni is OK... though, being an American, I'm not sure how I can help.

Leni has been so good to us in so many ways over the years and now she's alone and being taken advantage of. We need to do something! I just talked to my older brother, who is willing to fly to Germany from Hawaii, where he's vacationing, to help Leni.

Fingers crossed, OK?

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Goofball said...

Carol, I am confused. How did she end up in this facility against her will?

Jen said...

Oh, Carol, I'm so sorry! I hope that she can get help soon. Could you go and bring her back to the States? What a mess.

Maria said...

Oh, big big big hugs. Fingers and toes crossed ... and all that jazz. I am so sorry!

christina said...

Oh dear! I'm so sorry this has happened. There have been huge issues with many German care facilities and you're right to want to get her out as soon as possible if she doesn't want to be there. I'm guess it has something to do with a "Vormundschaft" where someone else has power of attorney and has decided what they think is best for her?

Nikki said...

Awww, I feel so bad for Aunt Leni. :( Work your magic and do whatever you can for her. She is in my thoughts and prayers....

She-She C said...

So sorry to hear of your Aunt Leni. Wish there were something I could do or say. I'm sure you're very concerned about her happiness and welfare. Life isn't fair to the elderly. I have no doubt between you and your family, she'll be okay soon. You're in my prayers, my dear friend.

Dixie said...

Yikes! I hate to hear this about your Tante Leni. I hope something can be done that she's able to live where she wants. I can only guess someone has put her in this home and she doesn't need to be there. There are other alternatives where she can live on her own and have help come in if she needs it.

I hope it all works out well.

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