The realities of long term care homes, the way I see it anyway. Can you show me I'm wrong?

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I just finished reading two threads about problems in assisted living/nursing homes. In one the poster's mother had a room mate whose husband visits all day every day, basically forcing her from her room in search of some privacy. Unfortunately she ends up in the lobby, no privacy there either.
In the second dad wants to move mom and himself into a rental unit because he is going bonkers staring at the walls all day in assisted living, refusing to participate in activities, while at night having to endure the noise from the adjacent laundry room.

Many of you mention moving to retirement homes that are like moving into the Ritz. Those places exist for those who can afford them,(and they seem to be geared toward younger, higher functioning residents) but the reality, at least where I live, is that most facilities have changed very little over the past 30 or so years. One nursing home nearby has been upgraded recently and is held up as the new standard of care in the province. I haven't toured it since the renovations but checking it out online I can tell it's still not the Ritz, lurking in the background is the (necessary) institutional flavour common to all of them. The menus seem to offer tasty items, but I wouldn't want to live on the endless repetition of cafeteria style choices. Older buildings were not built with privacy in mind, so sitting in the lobby is still commonplace. Indeed, staff like to congregate immobile residents in one place so they can keep an eye on them more easily. And the activities list always looks impressive until you understand that it is mostly boring repetition and spin (eg, brain games is really just a printout of a word search found on the internet). Bingo anyone?

The unfortunate truth is that even in the best places somebody has to be stuck in those less than desirable rooms, and that unless you can afford a private room your roommate can make life h*ll. JessieBelle stated it so well, "So many of the assisted living facilities are like college dorms or hotels. Unless you engage in the activities or watch TV, there's not really a lot to do except to sit around and wait for God."

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Babalou, I want to thank you for your advice. My personality is to be a mouse, but in my role as advocate for my Mother I have had to learn to be a lion. I made an appointment to speak with the DOC this morning and we went over my concerns, which I presented to her in a formal letter. I felt it was a productive meeting and she promised to get back to me later this week after talking to her staff. Nothing can ever change if we don't speak up, and I do feel my concerns have been validated. At the very least they now know that this little mouse can also be a lion if provoked.
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Cwillie, I would take your list of "experiences and have a sit down with the DON in the spirit of "how can we fix this so that this is a safe place for my mom to stay".
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We live in a rural area vstefans, and my choices are limited to three, the one actually in our town and two others in neighbouring towns. I'm not certain that there is any difference between them but the only way to know for sure is to try them out. I suppose we could look in the city where my sis lives, but then there would be the difficulty of getting her there. This place seemed nice enough, the residents were clean and well dressed, the administrator very thorough when we discussed her needs, no shortage of staff, but the proof is in the pudding as they say. It just seems that they are so used to going about their daily routines that it never occurred to them that we were new or that I might want to know about her day. I don't know what I should do in 6 months when I will actually be out of the country for a week.
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Cwillie, that facility sounds like a poor match for your mom. I would vote for trying somewhere else. Mom is very confused, and maybe does not even remember to use a call button - assuming she had one and they showed her how. And, maybe they treat their long term residents better...or maybe they don't.
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CWillie, that doesn't sound as restful as you though it must have been. The choking episode was frightening. What would have happened had you not arrived when you did?

Sure wish it had been a more productive and restful week for both of you.
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Well, I'm picking mom up soon after her week respite stay at the Villa. Although I chose this nursing home because it was an easy 10 minute walk from my house, I also knew that of the three local options it had the longest wait list and figured that was something of an endorsement. So how did it go?

I'm disappointed, and if you have read this thread you know my expectations were not high.We arrived on Monday morning and I felt abandoned almost the moment we wheeled in the door. The greeting was cursory despite my having called to say we were on the way. The charge nurse accepted our meds and showed us to our room, then we were pretty much left to figure the rest out for ourselves. Although staff was abundant no one paused to greet us or introduce themselves. I decided to trust that the information I had gone over with administration would be sufficient and left.

Tuesday, I arrive in the afternoon and find mom agitated, she tells me she has been walking all day looking for home. She claims someone slapped her bottom and told her to behave, but was confused so I didn't know what to make of it. Apparently she was visited by the doctor and perhaps a clergyman, but I had no interaction with the staff while there.

Wednesday was a good day, she seemed to have benefited greatly from the social interaction and activities. Maybe we should put her name on the wait list?

Thursday I dropped in after supper and found her alone in her wheelchair facing the corner at the end of an unlit hall. Obviously confused, he said she told them she wanted to stop playing. WTF? I took her to her room and got her settled for the night
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Friday was quiet, but on Saturday I arrived shortly after supper and again found her alone,dressed in a hospital johnny and clutching a basin. She was red in the face and obviously distressed. I knew immediately she was choking, that sort of stuck in the throat king of thing that dysphagia people get. WTF again?
I questioned a psw who said she knew nothing but got the nurse on duty to come and pay her some attention. Finally I found someone willing to take the time to talk. Seems the meals on weekends are often problematic, and the chicken was very dry. Uh, mom is supposed to be on a soft, moist diet??
She also told me that mom had somehow gotten herself out of bed Tuesday night and they found her in an adjacent empty room sitting in a chair. I had been told she was doing well and there were no issues, so obviously no one thought I needed to know this
There is more, but this is too long already. I figured that this wasn't the Ritz, but at least they wouldn't kill her... now I'm not even sure about that. LOL? :(
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Windy, I'm in the same spot as you--no kids, no family (brother will be specifically EXcluded from POA-type decisions in pending update of legal docs). I have it set now that POA falls to my partner, but I expect to long outlive him. In which case it falls to my attorney, who is also a friend, and in succession to her junior partner. With wishes spelled out in fairly great detail. Next step will be a serious look at long term care insurance, having found an agent of all such things that I actually trust.
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I am a former nursing home resident of 8 years. During those 8 years I was shipped around between 4 different facilities. I witnessed the worst and best in those 8 years.
My favorite was, believe it or not, a County run facility out in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY (My hometown). It was an over 100 year old building that was originally used for the sick, infirm and homeless. It had indoor courtyards and a large outdoor patio area. There was a branch of the NYS public library inside the building on the second floor. There was computers with internet access in the library, inside the patio area and in the therapy department as well. There was a cafe specially built for resident use and a large, central activity room. The activity calendar could've been better but in all reality, you can't please everyone.
I started in a semi-private (a room mate) then got a private later during my stay. Like I said, it was a County run facility so getting a private room didn't cost any more. All I had to do was make the aware that I wanted a private and when the first one came up, I jumped on it. Kind of first come, first served. You have to stay on the staff if you want a private room, make sure you're on the "supposed" waiting list if there is one.
It always sucks when you're yanked from your home and put into a facility but you also have a choice. A choice to try and make the best of it. That was a hard lesson for me to learn but I did it.
I was finally discharged in Feb 2011, after 8 long years of residency. It literally changed me as a person and it changed the way I live my life today. Believe me I had my fill of awful nursing homes as well but that's a different answer for a different question.
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… at which point people will take over from the republic, go about things in their amateur shambolic way, doing the best they can, and society's normal service will be resumed.

I've always felt it was six of one and half a dozen of the other.
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No I'm not that old. I'm still building stuff, doing electrical jobs, riding bikes, paddling my kyack and running around after my wife's horses. But I'm looking down the road. With no kids or family around how can people plan ahead to avoid several horrible years of nursing home warehousing?

We've all been to the nursing home to visit granny and we all say, please God do not let me end up here. Well I know gods pretty busy so that leaves the state of MI which by the time I'm senile and goofy will have likely seceded from the union into a right wing militia republic where old folks are left on the street to die.
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