SPF: Old and Forgotten

Clara raised her arms to let her nightgown slide down them onto her small frail body. For eight days, not a single person had called her or stopped by to check on her.

The sun had set an hour earlier and tonight she needed to get to sleep early. Tomorrow she will walk the three blocks to the market and pick up a few groceries.

Clara crawled in-between the sheets and let sleep take her into it’s gentle embrace while she dreamt of her husband and her children. She was happy in her dreams and free from her old and broken body.

The morning sun shimmered into her small apartment. She awoke craving her morning coffee and a meal of oatmeal and toast.

A sharp and intense pain hit Clara and she fell and hit her head on the porcelain tub, knocking her uncounscious.

Two days later, Clara drifted away into permanent sleep.

One week later, she was found.


Photo credit: Alistair Forbes


I chose the subject to write about because recently, I have had two elderly members of my family, both living alone, have accidents after each suffered a stroke. One member passed away and the other member is in the hospital in Dallas, Texas. The family member that passed away laid on the floor alone for two days before anyone found him. The second family member laid on his floor for a full day before anyone found him.

I just wanted to say how important it is that we keep our eyes and ears out for the elderly, whether they are our neighbors or members of our own family. It made me realize just how often this very thing occurs.

Thank you to Alistair Forbes for hosting Sunday Photo Fiction. He gives us a photo prompt and 200 words or less with which to write our stories. The challenge is fun and addicting and everyone is welcome to participate. For more information, click on this link: SPF





67 thoughts on “SPF: Old and Forgotten

    • Thank you so much! I appreciate you reading and your wonderful comment. That is true – elderly people do fear dying alone, and yet many do because no one checks on them.

    • That’s a wonderful idea. Have them open the blinds or the curtains. That was also a wonderful thing that your dad’s neighbor did for him. I’m sure it made you feel much better knowing he was being checked on.

  1. Good topic. We always worry about my baba and grandma. Something like those medic alert things where you push a button if you fall can be a great idea. But I don’t know if everyone can afford those?

  2. OH that is so sad about the members of your family! I am sorry! You did a great job at touching the heart with this post and you are so right, we do need to keep in touch with them. I felt so sad when i read how it had been 8 days and she hadn’t heard from anyone. Hugs to you!

  3. Very sad,, we should never leave our elderly alone and when they need us the most. Even if they have pushed away everyone in their life, who know their prayer will make you most successful and happy. Good story

  4. That’s a touching tale, especially considering your recent experiences. It’s true we should keep aware of such things and watch out for the elderly.

  5. Your words are so poignant! The story heart-breaking. And one I can relate very well too.
    My mother tripped over the door sill and broke her leg. She lay there counting everything she could see, because she knew the woman who delivered her groceries would come at some point. And, of course, she did.
    We don’t know for sure how long my aunt lay dying on the floor after falling down the stairs. Her neighbours called the police when, settling back in after a vacation, they noticed my aunt’s car hadn’t moved in days.
    So sorry for your loss.
    And, its true, the more family is pushed away, the more they should care. The early stages of dementia can change a person’s attitude towards so many people.
    Thank you for writing a post that highlights just how important keeping an eye on folks is. And not just older neighbours, but neighbours with special needs/physical difficulties as well!
    Oh dear, my reply is longer than a piece of flash fiction, but it really cut to the bone with me.

    • I am glad that it hit a bone with you phylor. I’m sorry to hear about your mother and your aunt. That’s so terrible they had to wait so long for someone to find them (like my relatives). You’re right, it should also include those with mental/physical handicaps and needs as well.

  6. We are of that age where families are spread so thin. We need to become, perhaps not adoptive families to those elders around us, but to be well aware of their routines.

    May the memories of your loved ones be for blessings.

    We have an elderly gent who at 90 plus still drives. Now to me that is even scarier than him living at his home alone. But he is kind enough to let us know when he goes on vacation so we shouldn’t worry. But I do worry every time he gets behind the wheel. He may still be mentally sharp, but he walks with a cane or walker due to surgeries. So one can only wonder if his reaction time is as fast as it could be.

    Thanks for stopping by my mash-up of prompts including SPF’s

    • I understand your concern regarding the 90 year old man still driving. Hopefully he drives as safely as he always has a younger person. It would be very difficult to give up that much freedom. It is so nice of you and yours to keep your eye out for him. Your welcome! Thank you for dropping by my post. 🙂

  7. I see this happen all the time as I work for a lawyer who handles estates (another source of my depression), and it happened to my cousin two years ago. She had just talked to her daughters the night before, gotten up and did some morning routines, went to take a shower and was found the next day by her daughter. They checked on her daily, but not that day. It’s really scared just to live alone at any age because a fall can leave us immobilized or worse. Thanks for writing this and making all of us stop and think! It’s not just the elderly who need checked on…anyone living alone needs someone to notice when something is different at the neighbors.

    • I completely agree. If we know we have elderly relative or neighbors we need to check on them often as possible. I realize it isn’t always possible to check on them daily. I am sorry to hear about your cousin.

      • Thank you. I’m sorry to hear about your family members also. I’m feeling a little paranoid now living alone and so far in the country….

        • I live in town and have lots of neighbors but we aren’t really friendly with each other. In fact, we never speak. If my sister hadn’t moved here recently I would not have anyone to check on me. Hopefully I’m not old enough to start worrying. lol

          • I don’t think I’m old enough to be concerned yet either, but I do know that accidents happen, especially to a klutz like me!

          • Hahaha! Me too!! About 15 years ago I got locked out of yard (I have a 6′ fence around my place) and had locked my car keys inside my house. I decided to try and get over the fence and get into my house and get my car keys so I could go to work. It was about 5 am in the morning. I moved the trash bin next to my fence, climbed up on the bin and jumped down onto my patio. When I jumped onto the concrete my left ankle shattered. I had to hop all the way to the inside of my home (I had accidently left the back door unlocked) Believe me, hopping that far is NOT easy. Anyway, if my door had been locked and I had not been able to hop, I would be in a similar situation to the others.

          • Oh my!! Bet you are a bit paranoid about leaving keys in the house!! I am always wondering how I’ll get inside if the power goes out and the garage door doesn’t work. I think I have a plan but it involves climbing into a window which is quite narrow.

  8. It is so sad when old people have no visitors, no family to see them, to visit. Very heartfelt story Joy (I know I don’t normally comment as I don’t usually have time, but I felt I had to comment on this one.

  9. This shows of real life experience. Now that I am getting older I hope there will be nice neighbors who will keep an I on me. I used to keep an eye on the elderly. They usually do not know that they really need someone to keep an eye open for them! Good story but very sad

  10. I know your story is fiction, but then again, it isn’t. How horribly sad Priceless. And I’m sorry for your family’s pains. This is definitely a message we need to pay attention to.

  11. It’s a dreadful thought that some elderly people live through their last months, perhaps years, alone and forgotten.Your wonderful story is a lesson to us all to keep our eyes open for such people in our neighbourhoods. I can imagine how your own experiences played on your mind as you wrote this, PJ. And anyone approaching their later years must fear that they may find themselves in a similar situation to Clara. The section about her doing her own shopping was an excellent way of emphasising how alone she was, without help from anyone. Terribly sad story, very well written.

    • Thank you Millie for your wonderful comment. I think people get so busy with their every day lives they forget (including me) about checking on the elderly members of their family. My cousins apparently didn’t check on their dad every day and my brother-in-law (he and and my sister have been separated for years) his children hardly ever checked on him. (His children from a previous marriage). It is easy for us to forget how fragile they are and how common falls are for the elderly.

  12. PJ, this really elicited tons of comments, all well said and worth saying! You write the truth clothed in a fictional account. This happened to my grandmother in Hooks, Texas years ago. Even though neighbors checked on her, she had a stroke during a lightning storm (she said she was struck by lightning), fell and laid on the floor until the next morning. She was found, hospitalized and died a week later. My dad was lucky to see her (flew from Northern Cal). She passed quickly after she saw him. As much as the frail elderly want to remain in their homes, they do need looking after. A very poignant but important post, PJ!

    • Thank you Terri! I really appreciate you reading and your feedback. One of our family member recently passed away, and the other family member is in ICU because they laid there so long before anyone found them. I thought it was something we all need reminding that we need to check on the elderly around us or in our own families. You are right Terri!

  13. This is a very important story! I’m so sorry for your loss and I’m so glad that you created this. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Short, but intense… Sad that she died alone like that…. An excellent reminder that we should take the time to check on our elderly neighbors and friends.

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