Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Final report: the problem with nursing homes prt 2
In my last installment I covered how having one's own belongings could help with nursing homes problems and broached the subject of personal ties effecting the problems. As stated in the beginning of my previous post we as a society have come to see the elderly as similar to porcelain dolls so we feel like we should admire them from afar. This distance leads to nursing home staff to treat their patients as objects that need constant care. This conflicts with laws for nursing homes specifically about psychosocial needs, but you already know this if you read my last post.
Now I will focus on how we can bridge the patient-caretaker gap. As I have pointed out in my last post the main reason the staff avoid getting close to their patients is to not feel the pain of loss. We can ease this pain by accepting, as a society, that loss, death, and pain are a natural part of life. Another way to lessen the gap between patient and staff is respecting for the patients. When you have to bathe, feed, and move someone on a daily basis it is easy to how you could lose respect for him or her. However it is perimount that nursing home staff do not lose respect for their charges for once they do the charges are seen no longer as ends in themselves but merely a chore. To make these suggestions take hold I propose that nursing home staff take a class or classes that teach thought experiments where the staff are the elderly wards.
Yet all this means nothing if the tenants don't have a modicum of freedom. As Optimus Prime said in the first Transformers movie, &freedom is the right of all sentient beings&. However since the elderly cannot do some of the things required for daily living their freedom is limited by the amount of safety they want or need. This is a very pressing issue since to much freedom can lead to harmful accidents or death while to little would lead to a life bereft of satisfaction. Going back to Optimus's quote freedom should be granted on the bases of cognitive abilities, since self awareness is linked to sentience and ones cognitive abilities lead to self awareness. The question now becomes at what cognitive level does freedom go out the window. For me the answer is never. We should never take away the elderly's freedom entirely, the freedom to choose death, the freedom to deny help, the freedom to choose ones food, these are an example of what type of freedoms that should not be taken.
It may seem from the tone of my posts that I dislike nursing homes, I do not. Instead I have a fear of them because my grandmother is not getting any younger and showing some signs of age related deterioration and upon reading Being Mortal I have gained these fears. My goal in writing these posts has been to articulate and address said fears, and I believe the process has eleviated them.