Saturday, April 23, 2016
Final Report: how to fix nursing homes prt 1
When someone mentions the word &elderly& what do you think of? Maybe you picture a wrinkled lady hunched over in a wheelchair, or a silver haired man using a walker. It was not so long ago, in the scope of history, that the picture of elderly was of an old person surrounded by the young giving advice and knowledge of the world. Obviously we have come to see the elderly as weak, brittle things that need protection, not unlike porcelain dolls, rather than people. This is the major failing of nursing homes.
As a social species we want what's best for family and friends. So when our parents or grandparents start showing the signs of age related disability we look for the best place for them. The best place for the age related disable is somewhere where they can be safe and happy. Currently most nursing homes focus on their wards being safe, whether from falls, memory slips, or bacterial and viral attack. While treating the medical needs of their dependents nursing homes tend to overlook satisfaction. What do I mean by the satisfaction of the residents? It's not whether they are happy with the amount of care or dedication of the staff. The satisfaction I'm talking about is the residents' satisfaction with their circumstances , a happy state of mind.
This state of mind is attributed to the occupents' personal belongings, the connections they have with people, and the amount of freedom they have. Obviously the more stuff that is around you that belongs to you will make a place feel like home. This is why kids that go visit family members' houses without mom and dad for the first time get homesickness. Same concept applies to the elderly in nursing homes, and depending on the person's cognitive ability could be much worse. Just imagine going to sleep and when you wake up you are in a room completely alien to what you know; nothing is where it should be, if it is there at all; the room is much smaller; there are wires and tubes stuck into you; and there are multiple other people in there with you. A frightening experience to be sure but what if you were in a room that was peppered with your belongings had a well known atendent water hinges over you? Sure no one likes that feeling of waking up and not knowing where you are, but with some of your belongings and a person you know and trust that feeling would fade quickly, if not almost immediately.
Having people around you that you trust and feel comfortable with brings a type of belonging that is sorely missing in, most, nursing homes. I believe this is due to the part of human nature that avoids pain. My reason for thinking this is that when someone important to us dies it leaves an ache on our lives, and for nursing home staff to not feel this pain they distance themselves from their dependents. It is understandable as to why the staff feel the need to have this distance, ie if they're in a nursing home they probably don't have many years left. How we can shorten the distance and what nursing homes should do with the elderly's freedom I will discuss in my next installment, so... stay tuned and touch that dial!