wings and things

Nursing home thoughts 2

on November 23, 2016

I was reading a novel the other day in which a nursing home was described as a “dumping ground”. It wasn’t the author of the novel who said this; it was her prissy main character.

I felt as if I had been slapped in the face.

Nursing homes are not dumping grounds! And yet this seems to be a common misperception, often accompanied by barely disguised expressions of absolute horror.

Nursing homes are not houses of horror!

When I recently bumped into an old friend and told her that Anthony was in a nursing home, she reacted with as much distress as if I had told her he’d died.

Okay so the nursing home decision is a last resort and I well remember how the three of us (Anthony, Ming, me) struggled with that decision. It was a mutual decision, hastened by Ming being scheduled for major spinal surgery (scoliosis) on Valentine’s Day that year. I had arranged two weeks of respite accomodation for Anthony at the nursing home while Ming and I headed up to Perth. Long story short, we got back and were told we could have the nursing home room permanently.

Now that decision was horrific – not because I/we had a horror of nursing homes per se, but because of the unexpectedly quick separation. If you don’t take an available room in a nursing home, you might be waiting months if not years, so we said yes. Much of that first year of Anthony living in the nursing home is a blur to me now but my mother tells me I wore the same brown coat day after day, week after week, month after month, and cried all the time. I know I must have blogged about it but I don’t want to re-read those posts at the moment.

Neither do I want to admit the relief I felt at the time but I have to admit it now because I still feel that sense of relief every time I see Anthony. Why? Because the nursing home decision alleviated all of the physical and emotional stress and exhaustion of caring for him and gave me the freedom to care about him again.

Did I stop loving Anthony during those years before the nursing home? Of course not! Did I stop liking Anthony for wanting to go to the loo a thousand times a night? Yes!

The nursing home decision has, over time, replenished my energy, allowed me a social life with family and friends, given me time to write, enabled me to focus more on our beautiful son, and, importantly, gifted me with the ability to fall in love all over again….

With Anthony.

Nursing homes are not dumping grounds; they are, however, the most unvisited resorts in the world.



21 responses to “Nursing home thoughts 2

  1. letstalkaboutfamily says:

    Depending on the nursing home, it can be a huge relief for the resident and family. We had better luck with assisted living as dad’s temporary nursing home was too big, too noisy, not centered on the patient and just plain awful. Thankfully we got dad back to his assisted living facility and he lived happy there for 4 more years.

    In the end it was a heart attack that got him onto hospice and inpatient hospice was wonderful for all of us. No one should write off any options without checking out what is available locally. Family members can’t carry all the burden alone without relief fromrespitecare or inpatient care of many other family members coming in to help!

    You are doing a wonderful job with Anthony, you are an inspiration to me!

  2. Oh Julie, What a powerful post. Thank you! ❤

  3. judyrutrider says:

    Thank you for opening my eyes to my own insensitivity. I’m one of those who are horror stricken at the news that someone’s loved one has been moved to assisted living. Keeping my head firmly buried in the sand about the realities of caring for an invalid, I have vowed to keep my mom at home to the end. You have shown me that there may come a time when that is neither healthy for her or for me. It’s time for me to begin to adjust to that possibility.

  4. Judy says:

    A nursing home is all about the care that is given. I’ve been to places where it’s very sad and the patients are neglected.
    Even with excellent care, my mother needed more company and my brothers and I hired a companion to be with her part of each day. And of course, visits are everything.
    Anthony is blessed to be loved so much. I am so sorry for how hard it was to separate from him – his illness and all the stress has been so much to bear for all of his family. Sending love.

  5. susanpoozan says:

    You write with such passion.

  6. ksbeth says:

    i so agree with you on all of this –

  7. pastorpete51 says:

    Ooh thanks for this post. I am every week in the local nursing home here and I see a hundred different situations. Homes can be places of sadness and isolation for people whose families do simply “dump” them but the problem doesn’t begin at the nursing home. The wounds, bitterness and anger that some of my people bring to the home happen over a period of time. Thank God for caring staff who do their best to encourage and support as many as they can. Thank God also for people like you who are faithful to their families and friends. God bless you always

  8. Rhonda says:

    Your last line…pow!

  9. I spent 15 years that were often filled with trying to convince people nursing homes were not the ‘end’. People “promised” their parent/grandparent/spouse they would “never” put them in a nursing home. But those same people, couldn’t, or wouldn’t, provide the level of care that loved one needed. Because of a “promise”. Nursing homes are as good as you make them. I’ve counseled families on their part, that “putting” a loved one in a nursing home is not abandoning them, unless of course, they abandon that person there. They should consider the nursing home that persons HOME. The staff there are to help alleviate the physical work, and this allows family to be family. You can love your family no matter where they are. And for so many who I saw, the nursing home was a huge improvement on the quality of their lives. And yes, sadly, it was the end of days for some. But those end days were spent being cared for, and not alone.

    I love that whenever you are with Anthony, you are home. And so is he.

  10. You’re so right.. they are the most unvisited. When I came home one day from seeing my mother, there was an older lady sitting by the door with a corner of her dress pulled up wiping tears from her eyes… The residents often sat by the front door. But she and that image prompted me to write to the editor of our newspaper…. asking people they knew or loved who were in homes, to go and visit them and explained they really didn’t have to do a lot (told them a few things) but basically just to show that person that they were not forgotten …that they were loved… ‘just to be there’ ! (sorry for the editorial) Diane

  11. No they are not dumping grounds at all and some are wonderful places some not so much and some are awful but is truly awful is the amount of people who placed a loved on in a nursing home and forget about them and rarely visit as you know I visited my nan every week right up till the end but many members of the family didn’t they didn’t even bother to visit on her birthday

  12. Always a tough choice.

  13. You said it all in the last sentence.

  14. Very well said regarding the caring about vs the caring for. And loved the last sentence!

    Having spent a lot of time in many elderly care facilities over the last 10 years you are very lucky to have found such a well run and staffed place near by and to have actually gotten him in. In the US wait lists, high costs and lack of local options become real roadblocks…

  15. There are some nursing homes that are wonderful and some that are not.
    Whatever the case, I agree with you. A nursing home is definitely NOTa dumping ground.
    When I was much younger (many, many years ago), I worked in a nursing home for awhile. I saw that some people were visited often by their families, and for others….no one ever came.
    It was sad to see..
    There was one loving (but sad) situation that I will always remember. There was one young lady that came to see her mother every day! The problem was that her mom had dementia and every day when her daughter came–she would yell and scream at her and say: “This is the first time you have come to see me in a long time. Why don’t you care about me! You just don’t care!”
    Regardless of the fact that her mom kept accusing her of not caring and not coming,, the daughter continued to visit her every day.. Finally one day, after being yelled at by her mom again…she came out into the hallway, leaned up against the wall, and started crying. She said, “I don’t know why I even come.. She never remembers anyway.”
    I said, “But I remember and I will never forget you! You are the most loving person that I have ever met in my life! I can only hope that one day I have a daughter or son who loves me enough to keep coming to see me no matter what. I think you are amazing!”

  16. countrygirlhuntress says:

    I am a Health Care Assistant, and I work in a Nursing Home. Hearing your story hits home with me. I watch families make this decision a lot. It is the hardest decision for the families and their loved one. I watch the families and you can see that to them it feels like they are abandoning their loved one with us. But in reality they are not abandoning their loved one.

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