Alive and Loving, Even in a Nursing Home

A lovely article in the New York Times (“Old Age, From Youth’s Narrow Prism“) by Marc E. Agronin, M.D., describes how those of us who have not yet attained old age often make off-base assumptions about how the elderly think and feel. We project our own fears and beliefs onto them, while also presuming that we know what they must be thinking. We, the younger, are often wrong.

Can you remember when you were 13? To a teenager, people who are 30 are old, people who are 40 are ignored as impossibly old, and if you’re over 50? Well, life is over, right? Until you turn 30…40…50, and you realize that your older life is not at all what you had thought. How do you explain that to the teenager?

The same with old age. There are changes, to be sure, but there is also life. There is the potential for love and enjoyment. Even in a nursing home, as the New York TImes article so poignantly illustrates.

That’s yet another reason why the poor conditions at Britthaven of Chapel Hill Nursing Home are so disturbing. For years, this nursing home has be cited as providing substandard care, but according to Medicare reports, improvements are not made. That makes it a “Special Focus Facility.” And then came the reports of what seems to be inappropriate medicating of some Alzheimer’s patients with powerful opiates.

HensonFuerst has been at the forefront of fighting for the dignity and rights of people in nursing homes. This article is another reminder that “old” does not mean “oblivious.” Our elderly deserve to be nourished, their lives enriched, regardless of where they live.

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