The Not So Golden Years
At a first glance, walking into a nursing home makes one wonder why there is such a negative stigma placed on the term. A typical scene usually involves walking into a roomy, well lit lobby leading into one or more long hallways. Residents are scattered about, a few in front of the big screen T.V. watching a movie, another few may be in a reading group, led by someone going over the daily newspaper. Aides can be seen moving busily about, pushing residents in their wheelchairs and bustling to answer a handful of call lights. The nurses move about greeting visitors, and giving residents their medications. Most of the time physical therapy is also taking place; one or two residents may be walking down the hall with an aide by their side for support. It is the sort of scene that brings a much needed comfort to the families of these residents—children and spouses who can no longer care for their loved ones alone. It’s hard to understand why nursing homes have such a bad reputation when everything looks so good.
Looks are the key, as perception is reality for most people. Further examination and time reveal the truth—that the current system of our nation’s nursing homes falls short in the promise of quality. The minimal staffing policies and lack of standardized regulation show nothing but a blatant disregard for our elders. Their care becomes nothing more than an assembly line offering only the bare minimum services that are required by state and national regulatory agencies. Is this what we have to look forward to, what we can expect after a lifetime of contributions to Social Security and Medicare? Do we achieve dignity in our later years only if we have acquired wealth? Addressing these problems requires action at the state and national level—action that results in improvements such as tighter regulations on quality control, primarily through higher staff to resident ratios.
Having been a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) for six...