Friday, January 28, 2011

In a perfect world...

In a perfect world, all families would care for their elderly members at home until the end.  They'd place a hospital bed in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the family room, and even if the elderly person couldn't participate in the activity or even the conversation, at least he or she wouldn't be lonely.

But here's the reality.  Sometimes the elderly person:

  • Needs 24-hour care
  • Can't handle commotion
  • Becomes disoriented and agitated
  • Loses control of his or her bodily functions
  • Pleads to be left alone
  • Yells and cries

Still, though ... families in olden times didn't have nursing homes and skilled-care facilities and palliative care.  How did they cope?  They just did. Of course, most of them were homesteaders and ranchers and farmers, and they all worked at home, so they could provide the care the elderly person needed. 

Our society isn't set up that way; also, people live far longer than they used to.  So times change and "solutions" change, and there's a genuine need for clean, safe, pleasant, rehabilitative senior communities that provide families with the help they need.  Luckily, my sister found one of those places -- a good, four-star, good-smelling, pretty, welcoming place -- and our dad is sleeping there tonight.

However you slice it, though, every day, old people are left alone in strange rooms, away from their homes and families and dogs and possessions and familiar sights and smells and textures.  And more than anything, they just want to go home.  I don't care whose old person it happens to be -- yours, mine, no one's.  It just seems wrong, and I wish I could get past that point, but I can't.  

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