Gerontology trained staff for seniors.


Most facilities are overlooking individuals with a special focus in gerontology to serve our seniors. Marketers, salespersons, and sometimes nurses with no older adult experience are "leaders" and administrators in personal cares, LTC'S , and many other senior services....we expect focused training for those who work with children, why not our Elders?

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Couple months ago when my Dad needed to move from his Independent Living facility into Memory care, we had to limit the amount of furniture he could take.

So I called a hauling group that donates the good stuff and these two young fellows, late teens early 20th were great. They had a lot of patience as there was a group of women residents sitting out front and these two fellows got bombarded with questions :)

Who is moving out?
Why are they moving?
What apartment do they live in?
Is it a 2 bedroom, I want to move to a 2 bedroom?
That sofa isn't junk, why are you putting it on the truck?
Can I have that desk, it looks very nice?
Where are you taking all that stuff?
Can you come to my apartment and take some things?
Is this your full time job?
Do you both go to college?

Later I apologized for all the third degree questions, and the young fellow smiled and said "it makes for an interesting day".

Shinigami, that is sad that the nursing homes in your area are so sub-par. Here in my area, I have yet to see an Independent Living, or Assisted Living, or Skilled Nursing Home that I would scratch off my list, they are all very nice. And the area is building two more large Assisted Living/Memory Area facilities. Business is booming here, thus that mean more competition so everyone has to be on their toes.

Old, lucid people are admired and tolerated. But if you need constant help, are demented or have mental problems, etc. then you are tossed like trash as no one has the time or patience. That is why nursing homes are so God awful because are staffed by just regular workers and not workers trained to deal with the elderly. It's interesting that someone said that working with children is expected to have experience and tolerance but not with the elderly.

It's because elderly are just seen as just waiting it out until they die so they don't need any special treatment. I especially hate the exorbitant amount that is charged for the cringe worthy treatment in nursing homes. Substandard care for thousands of dollars a month. At least have trained staff to deal with the elderly.

I'd like to think ive done my best, trying to set an example of loving and caring for our elders to my children and grandchildren, having grown up in a family where caregiving was a natural progression of everyday life, but realize this isn't enough. I think the education needs to be set early in life, at the high school age level, and at least there should be very frank, open and honest exposure to what life does become like whe we are old or are faced with the tasks of caring for our elders, how it ie the eventual for all of us and we all haveto do our part, as well as saving for old age, and how important it is.
Having been faced with different family members, going through old age diseases and general decline, so many never learn until they are faced with it, and join it the trenches of caregiving as we are all facing now.

Without a doubt, it would be great if there was more focus on our aging population, but clearly there isn't enough public education as there should be!

NY DIL, your second paragraph is so simply poetic and truthful that's it's beautiful in sentiment. I will try to remember that my own behavior, especially in public, can be influential to others. It'll be a good reminder for me.

Veronica, excellent insights, especially this observation:

"there is no magic cure for old age and few attracted to this speciality." I think the attraction has to be for something other than cures (generally speaking, but more broadly interpreted as their basic value). I understand your point, and recognize but don't agree with young people who see old people as burdens or competitors for allocations of funds for social programs.

It should be to honor, support and care for old people as much as young people are, not b/c older people are becoming limited if not debilitated, but just because they are who they are....they're mothers, fathers, grand parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, War Veterans. ... they're people who are entitled to basic respect and not to be denied it b/c for the sole reason that they're old and in some people's minds aren't contributing to society. They've already done that.

I've always found it curious that cultures more in tune with nature have more respect for elders than Americans. Native Americans and some Asian cultures don't push their elders out the door; they revere them. While I can't speak to that many other societies, especially industrialized ones, I think there's an attitude in America that people in the economically nonproductive stages aren't of value as much as money-earners are. There's a lack of appreciation for the intrinsic value of people (as well as of women as that moron who doesn't need to be named has demonstrated through the massive publicity coverage of a lewd, private conversation).

As a nurse trained in the UK in the late 50's I received zero training in elder care in spite of working in geriatric areas. I am totally embarrassed by this situation and hope it has improved but doubt it because there is no magic cure for old age and few attracted to this speciality. I have learnt all or most of what I know from recent professional and personal experiences and especially this forum.
I worked with women and I do stress women as they were middle aged who came into eldercare with maybe a couple of years or less of on the job experience and tried to impose their beliefs on others. The same of course is true of mental health or assisting the poor and disadvantaged. Everyone has to have choices even if they choose not to make the correct choices as required by todays society.
Growing up poor but not realizing it and being old enough to remember the deprivations and rationing of WW11 I am naturally frugal and repurposing otherwise useless is very rewarding for me. But that is just me.
Those who care for the elderly and disabled need to be able to walk a mile in their shoes. I know old parents don't want to move out of their long term homes, take a bath, go to the Dr, eat nourishing meals, use assistive devices. We have to try and understand the reasons or these decisions and not paint ourselves into a corner where we make promises we have no hope of keeping without harming ourselves and our children.
Many on this forum have committed themselves to caring for elderly parents and have created lives of poverty and deprivation for themselves and still have parents who are unappreciative, angry, and generally unhappy. Whatever you do for them they are still that way so my question is why do it? You are not making a difference in their lives and they frequently behave hatefully towards you. So why do it? Is someone going to help you out when you are alone in your 80s - probably not. You will have to rely on the "system" to take care of you so why not make use of the "system' now to take care of your elders while there is still time to save your marriage and your children happiness?
This may sound cruel and heartless and I am in no way criticizing all the wonderful people out there who are making these sacrifices I just think there has to be a better way.
I guess I got of topic here but I really wanted to emphasize that everyone has choices and should not leave it too late to make them. I do understand that the system is broken and needs to be fixed but it is not just about money it is largely about education and everyone taking responsibility as best they can.
Think of someone like the Capt. Life has certainly not been kind to him but he managed to care for his mother and aunt and his own health using the recourses available to him. I bet his bank account is close to zero most of the time and he lives by the seat of his pants but little things give him pleasure and he uses resources presented to him to keep himself fed and sheltered as they cross his path. He gives to others and they in turn give to him. I don't know how often he bathes or changes his clothes but i bet he cleaned himself up to go and get that tat of Jake. He realizes what is important in this life and makes the effort to learn at every opportunity. We can all do well to follow his example and keep learning rather than tut tutting at his profanity.
I will shut up now everyone is different and can only do their best. Hugs to everyone. Oh and don't bother with the hate mail it just makes your fingers tired.

I didn't read the replies, but I want to add -

I recently looked into what it would take to get a minimal level of training in gerontology in the U.S. I looked at a gerontology certification program (as opposed to a degree program) at the only university/college that offers such a program in the whole of Chicago. I learned that it's an add-on for a 4 year nursing degree. The majority of LPNs and CNAs that do hands on care for elderly are not 4-yr degree RNs. I thought it was unfortunate that the course wasn't offered to more people as a stand alone area of interest. It's approached as a specialty for higher-trained medical pros.

Just some thoughts.

Garden - I was unfamiliar with Deidre Scherer's quilts until your post. I went to her website and she is truly a gifted artist. "Open Window" is beautiful on many levels, and I saved the image on my computer. Thank you for sharing her.

Garden - I think each of us is the movement because if not us, who? When we as caregivers lead by example in our own families and communities, we are influencing those around us whether they know it or not.

Even the indy living building where my inlaws live has brochures and online ads with models who have white hair but look only barely old enough to meet the 55+ age requirement. Meanwhile, in reality, the dining room is packed with rollators, scooters and walkers all around its perimeter.

Golden, any thoughts on starting a movement to educate people to the realities of older age? I think your ideas are excellent. I do wonder though if many people just will never be, or allow themselves to be, educated on the details of elderly care and old life.

Maybe a continuing ed class would be a start. AAA might be a good supporter for seminars on caring for the elderly, not specifically but just generally.

When I hear questions by people who have no hands-on experience with elder care, I think that it's clear they have no idea how intricate, exhausting, time consuming and depressing it can be. I think education should focus on the up side though, and that could require more challenging thought and applications.

I TOTALLY agree about the ads. Buff men and women strolling romantically on the beach, and gregariously hopping about in various sports are so totally NOT representative of old age.

NYDIL, addressing your last statement...are you familiar with the art quilts of Deidre Scherer? She's known for her graphic and realistic portrayals of older people, including those in the last stages of life.

Regardless of how much negativity may be generated by the challenges of old age, I challenge anyone to view her quilts with a dry eye.

Her "Surrounded by Friends and Family" is an especially emotional collection.
She brings old age and dying into the realm of creativity, and does so with gentleness, tenderness and a compassion that I've found compelling.

Google Deidre Scherer, then click on "Surrounded by Friends and Family." Keep a handkerchief or Kleenex handy. "Open Window" is especially powerful.

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