JewBu Quest: From Abuse to Happiness

JewBu: a Jew who practices forms of Buddhist meditation & spirituality. This blog documents my quest to 1) heal from sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse, 2) come to terms with losing Mom and Grandma to Alzheimers, 3) find balance, explore the spiritual, stay present. Bascially, I've experienced some pretty crappy shit in my life and want to find a way to move past it and find happiness.

Friday, September 08, 2006

10 Your Assisted Living Facility Won't Tell You

Thanks to Keith at the Alz's Hub for posting this strong article by Stacey Bradford at on problems assisted living facilities. I've experienced many of the problems she listed. We must hold assisted living facilities accountable to take better care of their residents!


Anonymous Patty Doherty said...

After reading the posts by Karma over the past week, some ghosts started rattling their chains and I thought I may as well post this idea I had when I struggled unsuccessfully with my father's care in a nursing home. What Karma and others write about is systemic, it's everywhere. With a problem this universal, it's going to take huge sweeping legislation to change institutional care for the elderly and give our parents a decent night's sleep. Anyway, here's my idea, for what it's worth.


How do we address the care of our elders, before they die but after they've lost their independence?

One things for certain, we'll all have close personal knowledge at some point with death. We'll experience it in as many different ways as there are people on the planet. But before death comes, many of us will be cared for in nursing homes as our elders are today. What is that like? How little we know and how much we need to learn - now! - while we have the time and the opportunity to get it right! For instance, how many of us can answer the following questions?

How does it feel to not sleep beside your spouse?

How does it feel to be unable to communicate your needs?

How does it feel to be dressed and undressed by a stranger?

How does it feel to be fed, not when you're hungry, but when it's "time"?

How does it feel to be fed what you don't like to eat?

How does it feel to not drink when you're thirsty?

How does it feel to be really thirsty, offered water through a straw you don't remember how to use, and have the water taken away because you're "notthirsty"?

How does it feel to need to use the bathroom but have to use a diaper?

How does it feel to wait for a stranger to come in and change your soiled diaper?

How does it feel when you have to wait for hours?

How does it feel to wait overnight?

How does it feel to holler for help and be ignored?

How does it feel when you can't bathe yourself but have to wait for your twice weekly bath by a stranger?

How does it feel to want to hug your child but you can't move.

How does it feel to cry and be ignored?

How does it feel to be hollered at to believe in Jesus when you're Jewish?

How does it feel to be cold and not pull your blanket up but instead have to wait for someone to notice, in the middle of the night?

How does it feel to be placed in a wheelchair for hours in a room full of strangers in wheelchairs with no music, no sound other than the CNA talking on her cell phone?

How does it feel to never go outside in the fresh air and sunshine?

How does it feel to know you won't get past the front door until you die?

How does it feel to be talked about as if you weren't in the room?

How does it feel to know you're spending down your life's savings to pay for this care?

How does it feel to not get your teeth brushed for weeks?

How does it feel to have your skin tear when you're pulled?

How does it feel to not move and develop bed sores?

How does it feel to not have them heal because you're only bathed twice a week?

How does it feel to have them spread?

How does it feel for your children to not see them because they're on your bottom, under your diaper, under your clothes?

How does it feel to hear the nursing home won't install web cams because they want to protect the privacy of their employees?

How does it feel to be old, incontinent, with Alzheimer's, in a nursing home in America?

These are all ordinary, everyday situations that our parents in nursing homes all over our country face on a daily basis. Don't believe me? Ask around - you'll hear the same heartbreaking stories coming from all over the United States. Ask your legislators if they know what's going on. And if they're shocked ask them if they would dare do something about it.


I have an idea but I need 12 brave legislators to take a leave of absence from their posts for one week. Preferably the ones who have campaigned as strong advocates for the elderly. And since Florida leads the country in aging, that would be a great place to "host" this event.

I propose they take up residence on one floor of a hotel, set up to follow ordinary nursing home procedure. This will be there "pod." Theyagree to be diapered, and unable to walk, bathe or feed themselves for one week. They rely soley on one statistically-average aide - no education other than CNA certification, unverified background check, questionable documentation, no experience - to do all of their care. This aide will make only $8 per hour. There will be one aide only - reflective of the acceptable staffing ratio in most nursing homes - 1 CNA to provide ALL the care for 12 residents.

These "residents" must not talk, they must not move, they must not read, they must not verbally or physically communicate, they must not do anything but lie there. They can moan, they can cry out, they can grab the hand of someone walking by, but they can't articulate their needs, no matter how dire.

They can't propel their own wheelchairs, they can't lift themselves up, they can't roll over in bed, they can't get water when they're thirsty, they can't get aspirin when they have a headache, they can't use the phone, they can't go outside in the sunshine and fresh air, they can't do anything for themselves. They can do absolutely nothing.

They have to exist as the patients of nursing homes exist, entirely dependent upon others for their care.


When the week is over, we'll have the information we need to address the nursing home system as it exists today. Maybe it will be great, maybe it will be awful but either way these 12 elected officials will know first hand what they're legislating about, care of the elderly. If everything is fine, we won't have to change a thing. If everything needs to be overhauled, these brave 12 can lead the way for the rest of us who just don't know what it is we're in for.

I believe that experience will change the laws in the state of Florida within one week. And if this one-week experiment is conducted nation wide, it will transform the way we care for our elderly.

The men and women who swear to lead us, to govern us, to protect us, should know first hand that the golden years have turned to lead in our country. The men and women who campaign tirelessly to attain their elected office should be willing to give us this one week, just seven days, to see firsthand how shamefully the nursing home system, as it's structuredtoday, is failing our elders.

Without that knowledge, how can they honestly say they know of what theylegislate? WITH that knowledge, they'll have the power to pass the mostsweeping legislation in our history.

Our mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, ARE these elderly people. For once and for all, 12 legislators can transform this haywire nursing home industry by participating in this challenge. All they'll have to do is nothing. When has it ever been possible to accomplish so much by daring to do nothing.

Thank you for your consideration.

Patty Doherty

PS. Oh, and one more thing, these 12 legislators will have to pay $1500 each for their care - the average cost of one week of average care in an average nursing home for an average Alzheimer's resident.

Friday, September 08, 2006 9:15:00 PM  
Blogger Karma said...

Wow, Patty, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments and your good ideas. It makes me feel better knowing that I'm not the only one passionate about this. I agree that the problem is really one of blindness to what really goes on in long term facilities for the eldery.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 8:37:00 AM  

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