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  1. #1
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    Default Inescapable sadness ~ nursing homes

    My mother in law has recently moved from Assited Living to skilled care for one month to try to get her health and strength back up after a bad cold and a few falls so she can return to assisted living. She just lays in bed and cries and says she wants to "go home" but we all know she doesn't want to go back to her apartment at Assisted, she really wants to go back in time 20 years to the big home with the husband and the kids and the white picket fence.

    Getting old SUCKS. I can't even get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom without thinking that she no longer can do something so simple by herself. Then I lay awake for the rest of the night. I have been happily out of the nursing home scene for a few years and going back and seeing all the disabled and elderly who are warehoused there is just heartbreaking. Is the human psyche designed to cope with a healthcare system that can stretch out the lifetime of the body past it's being able to care for itself?
    Why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?
    ~ Dave Barry



  2. #2
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    Jun. 18, 2007
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    It is crushing sometimes. Mom is in a marvelous facility, but still, when I visit each week, it's hard just to walk through the doors. Nobody is there because that was what they would have wanted.

    Then to walk past all those people who are sitting there hopeful, waiting, expectant eyes. I visit at least once weekly and have for four years, varying times and days (wasn't always Sunday). I visited several times a year for the eight years prior to that. There are patients there, many of them, whom I have never in all those years seen with any family or visitors.

    Then there are the good people doing a ministry there, though, that balances it a little, though never overcomes it. Mom's nursing home is quite far from my farm and her old circles; I picked it because her own parents were there for eight years, and she visited at least once weekly, so she was very familiar with the place and the workers (yes, many have been there for years and years; they don't have as high turnover as many homes). However, it happens to be within seven miles of her parents' old house, which is why they were placed there.

    The church in the city of my grandparents, who knew Mom decades ago (she left there in the early 1980s), visits their members there regularly, and after finding Mom there and recognizing her, they "adopted" her onto their list. She doesn't have a clue who they are, of course, but they visit her twice weekly, too. I've met them there. She often has a little trinket or something they brought.

    And when Grandmother was in there, one of the nurses told us something one day. Grandmother was a remedial reading teacher for 40 years. For 40 years, she never ONCE had a failure. Anybody in her class was already labeled slow, backwards, and a problem because they couldn't read yet. For 40 years, she taught them all to read. Every one. The nurse told us that several times a year, assorted people showed up at the nursing home asking for her, and while it was no secret where she was, you would have had to dig a little and not just give up and take the easy answer. All kinds of people came to visit Grandmother, who was a ragdoll and unresponsive to anyone in her end years, and all of those people said the same thing to the staff. "She taught me how to read." Dozens of people took the time years and even decades out of her class to come find her and try to thank her, even if she wasn't aware.

    The sadness is inescapable. But the positives are still there alongside them at times.



  3. #3
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    Feb. 19, 2009
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    Getting old does suck. I'm watching the same thing happen to my Grandfather. His body is outliving his mind, and its incredibly depressing for my mom and me. She feels horrible saying it, but my mom often just wishes he would pass away (he's going to be 99 this year, so has led a VERY full and long life) yet he just keeps ticking. It scares her a bit actually, having those genes because she does not want to turn into my grandfather, who at this point is pretty much a shell of what he was before.



  4. #4
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    Nov. 10, 2008
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    I hear and feel your sorrow. I did some home health care for the elderly. Many wewre living with their children, either in the childs home or the child moved back and it's heart breaking to hear them say that their life is not their own. Loosing their independance is gut wrenching to them...I have cried with a few of them.

    I too have lost sleep worrying about my "friends". Thats what they were...not clients but very dear friends as I saw many of them on a daily basis. Any trainign says not to become emotionally invovled...how the hell do you do that.

    I hope for your MIL that she can at least get healthy enough to go back to her assisted living and her regular routine.

    Yes, getting old just plain ol' sucks!



  5. #5
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    There are some "nursing homes" around here that I'd happily move into anytime. They don't HAVE to be designed as "warehouses", and surely they can be run in ways that "Being visited" isn't the highlight of the residents lives?

    I do think we need better "euthanasia" options. If the mind goes before the body, for example, or if the body goes too much and the person has had enough, there should be more humane options than what we have now.



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by dressagetraks View Post
    Then to walk past all those people who are sitting there hopeful, waiting, expectant eyes.
    That is the worst. My normally reserved, and rather withdrawn personality flips, and I scatter smiles and "Good Mornings" in every direction, and unstick the ones who have run into corners and send them on their way.

    My grandparents all loved life, and fought to stay strong and kept positive attitudes to the day they died. This curling up and whimpering is foreign to me, and so hard to deal with. She has always been the Drama Queen of the Pity Party. She's got a lot of valid material now.
    Why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?
    ~ Dave Barry



  7. #7
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    It is depressing. My father, who usually wasn't the most positive person in the world (understatement of the year), had a heart attack after my mother's death and had to move from assisted living to nursing care. We went to see him the day he moved and he asked very happily, if we wanted a tour. We said sure...he said; "look right, look left, tours done." And cracked up. Somehow it didn't seem to bother him too awfully much. The move to assisted living actually bothered him more, but my mother's declining health made the move necessary.
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant



  8. #8
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    have you considered she might actually be depressed?

    This curling up and whimpering is foreign to me, and so hard to deal with.
    fits of clinical depression are not uncommon after a viral illness.



  9. #9
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    May. 21, 2012
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    It is very sad to see a loved one sad and suffering.
    It is also scary to imagine yourself in that position.

    I'm not sure which human psyche you are asking about- the person LIVING a life dependant on care... or a person witnessing the other person living that life?



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by KateKat View Post
    It scares her a bit actually, having those genes because she does not want to turn into my grandfather, who at this point is pretty much a shell of what he was before.
    Me too. With my family history, if I don't manage to get some sort of odd cancer, then I will live to be 90 and I.just.don't.want.to
    Why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?
    ~ Dave Barry



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plainandtall View Post
    I'm not sure which human psyche you are asking about- the person LIVING a life dependant on care... or a person witnessing the other person living that life?

    After I wrote it, I decided it's both. Really both. I remember my MIL from my first marriage caring for her own mother in law for 7 years. Completely bed ridden. That is obviously the best for the elderly, if there is someone with nursing experience and finances, but that was such a sacrifice. Selflessly made. And she never even liked the woman to begin with. I don't know how she did it, but I respect her enormously for doing it.
    Why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?
    ~ Dave Barry



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by LauraKY View Post
    We went to see him the day he moved and he asked very happily, if we wanted a tour. We said sure...he said; "look right, look left, tours done." And cracked up. Somehow it didn't seem to bother him too awfully much.
    Such a blessing when they can at least maintain a sense of humor and a brave face.
    Why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?
    ~ Dave Barry



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by wendy View Post
    There are some "nursing homes" around here that I'd happily move into anytime. They don't HAVE to be designed as "warehouses", and surely they can be run in ways that "Being visited" isn't the highlight of the residents lives?

    I do think we need better "euthanasia" options. If the mind goes before the body, for example, or if the body goes too much and the person has had enough, there should be more humane options than what we have now.
    I agree on both counts. There are some wonderful people and activities if the residents will participate.

    And we don't even have the worst of it. What our next door neighbor is currenly going through with his parents is an excellent arguement for euthanasia.
    Quote Originally Posted by wendy View Post
    have you considered she might actually be depressed?
    Oh she IS and IMO has been for years. My husband has taken her to therapists and gotten her meds and she fights every bit of it. I forget what anti-depressant she is currently on. Luckily, her phsycian was actually a classmate of my husbands and he really does try. She makes it more difficult because she tells everyone what she thinks they want to hear. Then add a helping of early dimentia on top of that...
    Why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?
    ~ Dave Barry



  14. #14
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    Anyway... this helps. Thanks guys
    Why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?
    ~ Dave Barry



  15. #15
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    Isn't it Bette Davis who said "old age is no place for sissies"? Yes, growing old sucks. My dad is in a nursing home (a good one, but we had to fight like hell to get him there) and my mother in law is in an adequate (sort of) one.

    My brothers and I found it very depressing to tour nursing homes when we were looking for one for my dad. My brother said "imagine, these are life's winners. They weren't killed in the war or in a car accident, they didn't die of cancer or a heart attack. And this is their prize!"

    It is hard to lose a parent too soon but it is equally hard to watch them become shells of their former selves. Some people are vibrant and enjoy life to the end and some simply do not.

    I really hope that someday we understand more about depression and the elderly and find ways to help people enjoy life to the end. I don't think there is enough known about geriatric psychiatry; from what I can see it is a very different ball game treating depression in the elderly. Add to that the personality changes that happen with dementia and small strokes and you start to wonder if "going out while things are still good" is really such a bad thing.

    I would prefer to remember my dad as the smart, well read, outgoing and sociable man he was as opposed to the non-communicative and anti-social man he has become.
    I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.



  16. #16
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    Jul. 26, 2007
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    Default Getting old can be hard, sad, and expensive

    In our area, the type of place you would want to live when you could no longer live alone costs $6000 or more per month.

    I am trying to live my life so I have as few regrets as is realistic, and when I cannot afford myself or am miserable or just decide I am "done," I will have a plan in place for that. The challenge is that this is easy to say now; the heartbreak will come if I am not ready to give up on life but can't afford even a glimmer of the life I want, or my body and my mind have aged at vastly different paces such that there are no easy decisions.

    In the meantime, I would encourage everyone to sit down with an accountant or other reputable professional and PLAN FOR THE FUTURE. If you are the type, also go see a social worker or other mental health professional or life coach and PLAN FOR WHAT YOU WANT YOUR LIFE TO INCLUDE WHEN YOU ARE OLDER.

    And in the meantime, hug your horse, and give them the life that you would want if you were in their "shoes" (if they wear shoes. My horse doesn't want them, but I know I will still love new shoes when I am 90).



  17. #17
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    I think managing expectations is a large part of it. My parents are healthy and working - and very aware that when the time comes they'll end up living with neither me nor my brother. I can pay for homecare for as long as that's all that's needed, and when more care if necessary then yes, nursing home.

    It'll be the same for me, since I'm not having kids.

    Of course all that is moot if the mind goes. That's my biggest fear - for them, for myslef. It's just so sad.



  18. #18
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    Do you have a mello dog they would let visit her? I was really surprised that they let us bring our dog to visit DH's grandfather in the nursing home. He lectured us that we shouldn't have a dog there, but at the same time wouldn't stop petting her. We got a lot of smiles from other residents too. It's amazing how much healing a pet can bring. I hope your MIL is on the mend soon.



  19. #19
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    I'm so sorry you are going through this with your Mother.

    For years my own late Mother was the Activities Director at a large nursing home in her town. To her, each resident mattered and she went the extra mile to make sure they knew, especially those who had no family or friends that came by. Each resident was important to her. I will hope and pray there is someone like her at your Mother's facility. No warehousing, just excellent housing for older people who needed around the clock attention.



  20. #20
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    My cocker was a puppy when my parents were in assisted living and then, alternately, in the nursing home section of their retirement home. Everyone loved puppy visits. I just had to have her vaccination record on file and she wasn't allowed in the cafe or the restaurant. It was a great experience for the dog too...she was exposed to wheelchairs, walkers, canes and elevators at an early age.

    My brother always took his English Mastiff to visit too.
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant



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