I have heard this promise dozens of times. “I promise I will never put you in a (nursing) home”.

So recently I started asking myself, why do we make this promise?

I remember as a child in the 80s, watching the news, and seeing the horror stories about nursing homes. The hidden camera footage was frightening. How could anyone survive there? Surely no condition would be bad enough to force someone there. 

Unfortunately, a lot of the sensationalized reporting in the late 80’s and early 90’s still resonates with those entering their retirement years. Because the news prefers to show conflict and tragedy rather than improvement and harmony, most people are not aware of the strict legislation and standards which were implemented as a result of this investigative reporting. 

I’m not saying all facilities are great. Just like everything in life, the statistical bell curve separates the excellent, the average, and the inferior. But the standard of care is now much higher.  

There also seems to be a stigma attached to residential treatment. You should feel no shame in receiving care from a nursing home, just like people who seek treatment for cancer or depression. When you are honest about your health, the healing can begin.  

I want you to take a moment and think about all of the tasks a nursing home performs. Here is a list of services they offer:

  • Room and board equipped to assist the mobility impaired
  • Monitoring and administering of medication
  • Personal care (including dressing, bathing, and toilet assistance)
  • 24-hour emergency care
  • Social and recreational activities

Nursing homes have trained doctors, nurses and health aids working around the clock to care for people. Not to mention, cooks, maintenance staff, and activities coordinators. There are dozens of people who coordinate the care of the residents. Are you able to do that? Are you positive you will be healthy enough to assist them with the activities of daily living (bathing dressing, toileting, etc)? Can you guarantee you will never become sick, need extensive medical care, or have the physical strength to care for someone? There is only so much you can do for someone while neglecting your needs. 

If you have made that promise to someone, consider discussing long term care options with them. Help reduce the stigma by being honest about the physical, mental, and financial health impacts it can have on you and your family. And offer them the promise to provide the best care possible.

Written by Michael Ell

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