Were nursing homes typically bad in earlier years or was it that the bad ones tended to get away with it? - AgingCare.com

Were nursing homes typically bad in earlier years or was it that the bad ones tended to get away with it?

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Some comments I've seen suggest that elders who are hesitant to move into a nursing home have memories of how "horrible" they were years ago and that the facilities are "not what they used to be" many years ago. I'd like to know more about this. My maternal grandfather was in one back in 1982-1983 in central PA and I never got the impression that it was a horrible place. I also had a Great Uncle in one back about 1960 in NE NJ, and although my memories are somewhat limited as I was only about 8 and visited once, I got the impression the people there were as happy as any I've seen where my mother is living now. I remember a nurse or aide being quite pleasant and friendly. Were nursing homes typically bad in earlier years or was it that the bad ones tended to get away with it? In addition, what was "bad" about them? Was the care bad or neglectful, the building or rooms dreary, or the staff indifferent or nasty? It would be interesting to read what others can recall from their experiences with grandparents and other long-gone relatives; some spouses and parents currently in facilities may have made specific comments about previous generations, too. I've never seen any elaboration on this subject so I thought it would be interesting and helpful to bring it up.

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Current surveys done by the CDC show that most NH have more than one adverse report and disciplinary note. Yet...after years of warnings...all continue to be in violation and continue to operate without penality. The biggest offense? Giving sedative drugs without doctor orders. Giving too much psyotrophic drugs...often without documented medical need.


Look up the recent data.

Nothing has changed. Federal oversight doesn't really happen. Rules not enforced.

Recent study published in the WS indicate the entire industry is in deep employee problems. They cannot hire enough. The wages they can offer are capped by Medicaid and it isn't enough to attracted competent help. Medicaid will not pay what it takes to keep pace.

If this is better than years ago...then good lord what was it like back then?
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Jacobsonbob, yes those #2 accidents are to be expected and the smell will go away after clean up. How staff worked in the conditions back then amazes me..or maybe if they worked better the smells wouldn't have been that bad.

My mom was in AL for almost one year before being moved to the SNF floor. She is thriving, making friends and doing activities..she's happy, which I find amazing!
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Thanks everyone for your comments so far. LisaNJ made a comment that reminded of an observation I've made concerning smells in a nursing home--it's to be expected that at times a place will reek because a resident had a #2 accident that should dissipate after a while after being cleaned up, but the odor of stale urine should not be a persistent feature of a well-run facility. Freqflyer pointed out that some of the earlier facilities were essentially asylums that basically imprisoned those having dementia rather than being able to provide care to improve their lives (of course most of the medications currently used were unavailable back then). I've heard the term "rest home" used but I'm not certain as to the connotation of this term--whether essentially an asylum or simply a place for assisted living.

I hope we can get some additional input!
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My personal feeling, about the state of care homes and society in general, is that very little changes. There were good and bad before, there are good and bad now. Over the twentieth century there seems to have developed more of a stigma: that there was something shameful about lacking a family who loved you enough to take care of you, and that if you were forced to fall back on "charity" you couldn't expect much humanity with it. But I don't think there was necessarily any objective truth to it.

Provision for old age, although we think of it as a modern problem, is not a new problem. For centuries there have been hospitals, hostels, almshouses, dower houses... Every age has criticised every past age and tried to improve on it, rarely acknowledging the best intentions of the one before.

My grandmother spent only two or three months in a nursing home. She refused food and nobody did much to urge it on her. The family theory, though not much discussed, is that she made her choice; and she was a longstanding, paid-up member of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society. I visited her there just the once, because it wasn't close to me and I had very young children. The headline of the day was a follow up story about Tiananmen Square; Granny looked at the photograph and said "I was there three years ago." True - aged 87, she had accompanied my aunt on a tour of China organised by the British Medical Association. I didn't know what to say to her. A pleasant young woman came in and offered tea, and asked if she wanted anything; she didn't, thank you. The room was nice, looked out onto a mature garden. But if you can't play your piano, you can't travel, there's no one to play bridge with and whole movements of symphonies keep escaping your memory... what's the point of carrying on? So that your inadequate granddaughter can come and visit and look at you dumbly?

Her younger sister spent three years in another care facility and it was a great consolation to me - I'd been responsible for getting her admitted - that her close friend reported that she had told him on many occasions how comfortable she was there and how well she was looked after.

I don't think there was much difference in the quality of care; it was the sisters' respective attitudes and personalities that were poles apart. One wouldn't compromise, the other was much more accepting.
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My grandmother was in a nursing home in 1971..I was 10 years old and I can still remember the smell, it was horrible. It has since been closed down and it is now a fingerprint agency. I went there in November to get my fingerprints done and as soon I opened the door the smell of pee came back.Even though the building has been redesigned I could still smell the pee. I went to school to be a CNA and the teacher told us when we go on job interviews, if it smells bad, turn around and leave.
My mom is now in a nursing home and there are no smells. There is always someone walking with bucket and mop. Residents being changed on regular schedule. With state regulations Long Term Care definitely has improved. Is is perfect? Probably not.
The way they can get non mobile residents out of bed and in a chair was something I had never seen in 1972.
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Back in the 1800's and early 1900's whenever a person has issues with memory, dementia wasn't on the radar, so they were placed in asylums. My great-great grandfather spent his final years in such a place, a State Mental Hospital. His death certificate mentioned paranoia, which one today would associate with Alzheimer's/Dementia, but he caught TB while there and that was his cause of his passing.

Thus generation to generation would relay what they or their parents or their grandparents what they saw and heard, dark dank places with unsmiling faces. Like, who would want to go to a "home"? And that is why so many of our elders refuse to even step foot into a place just for a tour to see these places are no longer asylums.

I've been spending hours upon hours on Ancestry . com and have found some death certificates, interesting reading.

I live in a large metro area, so we have tons of choices for Independent Living, for Assisted Living, and for Nursing Home/Long Term Care. And they do come in a variety of old and new. Some with excellent ratings some with so-so ratings. But a far cry from the State Mental hospitals.
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