Nursing Homes: Warehouses For Dying Seniors

They get you at age 75 or 80, or just maybe you can hold out a couple more years. However, unless you start pushing up daisies before it happens, the family may decide to drag you to one of those senior waiting-to-die facilities. Or let’s pretend to be more hip and call them senior centers.

When my mother hit age 85 in 1976, we determined she could no longer handle daily life, so we placed her in a nursing home. The monthly rate then was $700. If you check on charges today, the monthly average is a staggering $7,000.

Back then, I volunteered every Sunday at her nursing home for the next five years, both to keep an eye on her care and to help with other residents. I escorted them to meals, took them for outside strolls, taught a weekly art class and did other duties.

I can’t complain about the staff there. A few were lazy and spent too much time goofing off, but most did their jobs efficiently. At least when I was nearby, all acted concerned about the patients. However, with both the staff and families, it was obviously all just a death watch.

Now that I’m at the age, actually way past it, when nursing home commitment is a real threat, here’s my educated opinion. For both financial and other reasons, delay as long as possible placing an elderly parent in a nursing home. At $7,000 a month, lifelong savings and bank accounts disappear too quickly.

As an alternative, visiting nurse care is not cheap, but it’s far less costly than residential commitment to a nursing home. Additionally, set up a working schedule for family members to share equally in day-to-day duties for feeding, cleanliness, physical needs, companionship and other responsibilities. The elderly parent and everyone else will be much more comfortable with the situation.

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