It seems Hollywood has fallen in love with the elderly who spend their last days saying and doing funny things. Other similar shows that will also soon darken screens, include Cool Kids and Guess Who Died, about hilarious fictional nursing homes when inevitable death arrives.
This 92-year-old writer has had considerable experience with such institutions, and despite my keen sense of humor, finds the subject too often sadly unfunny. First is the ever-elevating cost. In my first encounter with a nursing home as a volunteer some 35 years ago, the average fee was $500 a month. Today it’s $5,000 and rising exponentially.
Second, is daily care. My recent visit to a local nursing home to see a close relative was frustrating. Her clothing had ID labels, but all had been with other patients for mass cleaning. Then distributed willly-nilly among them. Nothing fit, and patients wandered with clothing too large or too small.
When I volunteered to work night shifts, I too often found many on-duty staffers stretched out asleep on couches and floors for hours. Of course, there isn’t much bedside and bedpan nursing required when elderly patients are asleep. However, when you’re being paid $30 an hour, you should at least honestly work some of it.
I wish the new TV series on assisted living facilities are successful. Beyond that, I hope the story lines will help people realize there are serious issues related to the proper and honest care of beloved elderly family members. For an interesting take on the subject, find a copy of the 1985 movie, Amos, with Kirk Douglas starring as a feisty nursing home resident.