No Place Like Home, Not If You Want To Stay Alive!
Did you know that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the US living where someone to tell them what time to get up – even on weekends? Would you like that? I wouldn’t! How would you like for someone to tell you what to eat and make sure you do? How would you like to have “visitors hours” and lights out? I wouldn’t.
But people live in these storage factories for years at a time. They are sterile places. They are lonely places. They are lifeless places. That is a tragedy, because living at home with a caregiver costs far less than going into these people factories.
The goal of the factories is to make loads of profit and meet national regulations for safety. Ask your grandma if she would like to be safe in a nursing home or stay at home with all the possibilities of falling? And she will answer, “I want to stay at home.”
Nursing homes used to be the temporary places people when to recuperate after a hospital stay. But now they have become places to stay and wait to die — sometimes for years.
We read the shocking headlines about nursing home tragedies: Grandma Falls 11 Times In A Medicare 5-Star-Rated Nursing Home and Old Woman Raped In Nursing Home On Her Deathbed . But with all the emotions we feel regarding our own family situation, it is overwhelm city.
I think we should be asking “Should we put them in a nursing home?” What?!? Doesn’t everyone end up in a nursing home? No.
I went to visit a second cousin in his nursing home. I barely recognized him. Last time I saw him he was an energetic roundish man so full of ideas that he kept interrupting himself. Howard Christie had 29 patents. Then he fell and broke his hip.
By the time I found him by calling the various nursing homes, he was a thin shadow of himself. He was dazed at best, over-medicated at worst living in a zippered cocoon. But toward the end of our visit, I asked if he needed anything. He said he sure would like a chocolate malt and some razor blades. It was a quick trip to pick them up and deliver them.
The next week when I came to see him he was dressed, shaven and quite appreciative of his second chocolate malt. He wanted to go into the recreation center for dessert, and so we did. He talked about the structure of the Twin Towers, because as was an engineer that interested him. He talked about our family – stories I never knew. Howard even talked about his consulting in various countries.
The next week he was gone. His sons didn’t like me visiting. They thought I wanted his money when all I wanted was his company. I never saw Howard again. He died not long after.
Home care or taking the nursing home to grandma’s house is an important option. So why don’t we hear more about them? The nursing home industry is extremely profitable and extremely hard to get at. My little sister grown up, Barbara Christie Mansfield, worked in nursing homes with Alzheimer’s patients and loved them. But she had to take care of 60+ very sick patients by herself and two aides if she could find where one of them was sleeping.
Barb looked for the name of the person or company that owned the nursing home where she worked – to no avail. But I learned a lot about nursing homes from her. She told me,
“Patients only get a bath once a month.”
Barb also told me that when she was sick with pneumonia she had to work. Why? Because each nurse was responsible for finding her own replacement if she was sick. There used to be a job called scheduling.
So take away the Scheduling job, make people work when they are sick, cut way back on patient care and slice the nursing care staff to the bone. Then nursing homes become sick themselves.
Sets out to determine why home care, despite its potential as a cost-effective alternative to institutional care, remains a marginalized experiment in care giving. Nurse and historian Karen Buhler-Wilkerson traces the history of home care…links local ideas about the formation and function of home-based services to national events and health care agendas, and she gives special attention to care of the “dangerous” sick, particularly poor immigrants with infectious diseases, and the “uninteresting” sick—those with chronic illnesses.
Let’s check out at home nursing care. Let’s not let people die of loneliness. Let’s not let the nursing home industry hurt the people we love.