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Who cares about nursing homes?

  1. Sep 8, 2004 #1
    Many of us will spend months, if not years in them, mostly toward the end of our lives - yet very few of us bother to volunteer as visitors there. The folks are mostly normal, but unable to be cared for at home, if they had one. Get over the occasional smell and a few odd behaviors - your presence is what will make it a better place. A lot of good people there are so gracious for the smallest kindness.

    What keeps you from establishing a positive presence at such a facility, even if it's dropping by for a member of your family? After my Mom died in a home, I was asked to stay on because I had such rapport with the residents, and today I am due there in minutes for my elder support group! Your conversation means a while of reliving old memories and forgetting today's loneliness.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2004 #2


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    I hate to be such a misanthrope, but I guess I'll give my admittedly very non-PC view.

    I wouldn't want to spend much time with the majority of the people on the planet. I'm quite selective of my friends, and I'm not generally the type to want to go to bars, for example, specifically just to schmooze with random people. I don't think I'm blatantly unfriendly or socially awkward, but I just don't really find many people interesting enough to really want to spend much time around them.

    Old people are just like young people, but older. (Deep thought, no?) The bottom line is that if I wouldn't be interested in hanging out with a bunch of random young people, I would be even less interested in hanging out with a bunch of random old people, with whom I probably have even less in common.

    - Warren
  4. Sep 8, 2004 #3
    I've been to nursing homes and I felt good about helping people there, but all I can think about is how depressing it is. I keep saying in my head "god I hope this never happens to me". Its really sad.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2004
  5. Sep 8, 2004 #4
    Years ago I delivered a pizza to a nursing home. I was walking down the hall and there was a lady in a wheel chair I said Hi as I passed and she said hello. further on there was another lady, I said Hi she threw up on the floor.
    Do volunteers in nursing homes ever get put into old peoples wills?
  6. Sep 9, 2004 #5


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    :yuck:*returning to computer from visit to toilet bowl* :yuck:

    Phew...we're not the only folks you have that effect on. :wink:
  7. Sep 9, 2004 #6
    Not if you work with indigent Medicaid patients.
  8. Sep 9, 2004 #7


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    most people in nursing homes have signed over their income to the nursing home. Those rich enough to have a will have nurses paid to come to their home.

    My fiance is currently a medtec at a nursing home. She to a pay cut for the job, which is in her line of study. She loves it, even though some of the people can be quite abusive, it is not their fault, and she loves helping people out.

    I've speant a lil time in them, but I too find them quite depressing. It is sad that people are so busy in their life they would put their elders in a home and essentially forget about them, going on about their lifes as if their parents were already dead.

    I could not let my grandfather live their in his last months. We moved him home, waited on him as much as possible and tried to spend as much time as we could with him before he was hospitalized for the last time.
  9. Sep 9, 2004 #8
    My girlfriend is an RN, not happy about the daily abuse by her current elderly charge. More power to your fiance and happiness to you both; her attitude seems divine.

    There are folks in the upper middle class who need constant nursing care and can afford upscale nursing homes. I believe the basic bill now runs about $80,000 a year here around DC. Both of my parents suffered from dementia the last few years of their lives, and I visited them religiously as I would not have been able to care for them at home.
  10. Sep 9, 2004 #9
    ooh hoo hooo, someone's feeling frisky
  11. Sep 9, 2004 #10
    Not really, there are some very nice nursing/retirment homes out there. Basically, they are huge complexes with 1 floor houses complete with nurses, buses to transport you to the market, golf courses, rec rooms...
  12. Sep 9, 2004 #11


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    I have to admit to agreeing with Chroot's view. When my one great-uncle was in a nursing home, I used to visit him there, because, well, I used to visit him before he moved to the nursing home too. I got the distinct impression he was far happier in the nursing home than he was prior to moving there. These people aren't deprived of a social environment, they have plenty of other residents to hang out with. My great-uncle even found himself a "girlfriend" while there! It's sort of like dorm life for senior citizens.

    I also have relatives who I don't visit now, and sure don't plan to start if/when they are in nursing homes. I have good reason to not want to visit them, and if they've alienated all the rest of their family and friends by the time they reach that age, well, that's their problem.

    Honestly, I think I would find it depressing if I were in a nursing home and some volunteer came in treating me like some sort of pity case forcing me to entertain them as if they were my friend. If I wanted to be social, I'd play cards with the other residents, or call people I wanted to talk to. If I wanted to be left alone, I'd stay in my room and read, and wouldn't want some volunteer bugging me.
  13. Sep 9, 2004 #12
    The lesson is, save lots of money if you wish to retain some quality of life in your final years. If you're poor and alone, you're f**ked.
  14. Sep 10, 2004 #13
    I think you misunderstand the need for volunteers entirely.

    Most of the residents I work with lack the ability to ambulate - they often remain sitting in the same place for many hours, day after day, and may not have the opportunity to talk until I address them. Some can play Bingo (yes, it's stereotypical). They may have other profound disabilities. They do teach me humility, not pathos.

    What standards do you seek in another person to initiate friendship, or do you always first assume the falseness of others? How do you know with your attitude if a fellow resident would want to play cards with you anyway? Could you even dial a phone or have access to one?

    I'm only there for two or three hours a week. The lack of visitors to nursing homes and other institutions is truly shameful. Ignoring the issue won't make it disappear. You could change your mind by dropping in at a home, but won't - a self perpetuating excuse, until necessity dictates.

    Would you complain so much if a competent volunteer teacher worked at a neighborhood school? Have you ever tutored a youngster in one of your favorite subjects? If only you could apply your sociability to those on the other end of the age spectrum.
  15. Sep 10, 2004 #14


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    i think this is a basic attitude of americans in general Loren...many of us americans do not reach out beyond our little walls because we are happy in our surroundings...it takes a lot of effort for us to give our time and companionship to those who have experienced a lot more years on this earth then most of us. when my grandfather from czechoslovakia was alive, he used to tell me all kinds of stories about his escape from there during WWII but died alone because none of us were speaking to him. he was a difficult man in the first place to love, but dementia made it harder. at that point in time, i did not understand dementia at all, and now i wish i had.
  16. Sep 10, 2004 #15

    Let's hope for effective treatments for dementia soon. Our own "experiences" may be yet to come. We Americans take too much for granted, as most of the world realizes. There is happiness in helping, though.
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