the nursing home

today was my final day on the gero-psych floor.  the morning started out with it’s usual course.  i saw the patients, went to the patient treatment meeting, then the doctor left to do his billion other commitments.  i didn’t really have anything to do, so i joined first sat down and watched tv with one of the patients.

she’s notoriously a nasty old woman, and she was.  she wouldn’t let me sit down by her at first, and only finally relented when one of the nurses told her i was their friend.  at one point a resident came by to interview her, and asked her what she was watching on tv. her reply? “i dunno, i have cataracts.” at which point, i almost burst into laughter because the whole time i thought she could actually see the television. i am sure she could see a cloudy image, but basically she was just sitting there vegetating. 

soon after they started playing bingo (how stereotypical), but again, having nothing else to do, i joined in.  this went on for approximately an hour when i decided i should at least be a little productive.  a different psychiatrist had offered for me to join him and his student (a friend of mine) to the nursing home.  i debated for a short while on venturing out with them, but ultimately i decided to join them because 1. i knew i’d be bored out of my mind playing bingo the rest of the afternoon 2. it was right by my house and i knew i could go home afterward.

my experience with nursing homes is limited to when my great grandmother stayed in a different one also near my house.  one can imagine that they’re probably depressing, and i have to say, they are.  the majority of the people are just sitting there staring into space, some because they are demented but many because they are bored.  when they have activity time, it tends to be crafts, but the crafts are the type that might entertain children.  in this nursing home, the elderly all must have a roommate, which would be a terrible change from the previous privacy of their own home. 

it makes me think how many of them have children who they loved and raised, and here is the best place they could find for their parents.  it makes me question if they actually went to this place and looked at it, or if they chose it from a menu.  i walked in and immediately noticed the bland, dull colors consisting of mauve and puce, the minimal windows, the tacky paintings, the wallpaper trim of birdhouses, furniture from the 1980s, and hospital mattresses for beds.

i can’t imagine taking care of elderly parents is easy nor inexpensive, but niether is raising children.  after witnessing the nursing home, i have to hold steady to the idea that i will never allow such a fate to befall my parents.  my mother rejected her youth to give her children everything, i could only hope to repay her, and whenever i have need help, i have always been able to count on my father to support me.  they least my brother, sister and i can do is make aging a little easy, because as my psychiatrist stated, “aging is just not fair” and he didn’t mean it in the sense of vanity.

i know not everyone is able to provide their parents the optimal environment, but i do hope that those who are able do not abdicate their responsibility to a nursing home.

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2 Responses to “the nursing home”

  1. easy to say, more difficult to follow through with. I, too, would never want to put either of my parents in a nursing home… but there are situations when I understand why people do.

    What should a couple with 3 kids, an ‘average’ (<$100,000/yr.) income, and who works 60 + hours a week do with an elderly parent who may not be able to eat, get to the bathroom, sleep through the night, etc…?

  2. whenispark Says:

    i know. there are many instances where there are few other options. really i hope to prolong it, and also hopefully i would be able to put them up in something nicer than what i experienced. you do get what you pay for.

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