What would happen without nursing homes?

Published 10:43 am Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What would happen without nursing homes?

Over the course of the last several days I have read comments posted all over the Internet regarding the abuse situation that alledgedly happened at the Good Samaritan Society. A lot of these comments are “nursing home bashers” who have lumped all the nursing homes into one catagory — and that catagory is “bad.”

When I say this I am not saying that Good Sam is bad either. While I share with many that our elderly deserve wonderful care, I can’t help but cringe at comments that generalize all nursing homes and workers into one big batter and stir us all together. If done right, nursing homes are a blessing to families and to residents. Imagine what it would be like if there were no nursing homes. How many people would be willing to sit up night after night day after day with a loved one who required 24 hour-a-day care. Can you imagine going to work on zero sleep because you were up all night caring for your loved one and this went on day after day with no relief? Would people be willing to give up vacations, time with friends, school functions for their children and even a short trip out to do some shopping?

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That is what life would be for many if there were not the service of nursing homes. If done right, these homes are a blessing. I have a father in a nursing home here in Albert Lea and I also have worked with the elderly for more than 30 years here. I have come across many thankful families and grateful residents. Our own family is thankful for the services my dad gets. I don’t know what we would do if there were no nursings homes.

I would like to challenge these nursing home bashers to try to take care of a loved one at home that requires 24-hours-a-day care. Don’t take my word for it. Try it! Especially the ones who have jobs and careers and young kids who need attention or who want you to attend school functions for their kids. I am sure there a very few people who have done this care at home with some success, but I am willing to bet that the majority of the time it just would not work.

So imagine all the nursing homes shutting down today and all the residents are sent home to their families. How long would it be before caregiver burnout would land on their doorstep? What I would like to see is more volunteers coming into the nursing homes to help out. It doesn’t take much to lighten up the day of a lonely elderly person. To hold their hand and talk to them awhile would have a lot of them on cloud nine for days, or to take them for a walk or look at pictures of their families with them. The nursing home staff can do this, but some days their time is limited.

I personally have been blessed to have my father be able to be taken care of well in a nursing home and feel I have been blessed to be a part of residents’ lives over the years where I am at. It is a blessing to love them, hear their stories and when they show graditude for even the smallest thing you do for them, it is truly life-enriching. I have learned so much from these elderly people, so much about life and the era they grew up in. The way the world is today and the business and coldness of our generation at times makes me want to have a bit of the goodness that people used to have back in their days. I feel that I am taking care of the last of God’s best when I am with these residents. Life without nursing homes? I don’t think so. Not the good ones anyway!

Jody Johnson

Albert Lea