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Is visiting an unhappy reminder?

March 18, 2013
by Kathleen Mears
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My close friends and family visit less since I moved to this facility. When they do come I see a wistful look in their eyes at times. It is clear visiting me is not as much fun as it used to be, which saddens me.

Some of my guests have elderly parents whom they now watch over. The parents of a few have passed away after several years in a nursing home. They have dealt with all the long-term care issues and visiting me might bring back memories.

My 60-something family and friends wonder how well they will handle their lives if they can no longer care for themselves. One friend told me she and her husband have long-term care insurance, but only as long as her husband works.

Other older friends and family are considering downsizing their living space. But they say moving to a condo is more expensive than staying at home. Some are aghast by the "stuff" they have kept from years past and vow to get rid of it.

To stay at home, I think they should consider making their living space more accessible. Installing a ramp, low-level entry or widening doorways might allow them to remain in their homes longer. If they do not want to do these adaptations now, they could research them for the future.

When they need assistance most would probably choose assisted living if it is affordable. But they will still need to check out nursing homes in case they outlive their funds and need to move to a Medicaid facility.

There is really no way to prepare for nursing home life, but becoming familiar with long-term care facilities today will help. If conventional nursing homes do not change much in the next 10 to 15 years, my friends will feel let down when they move in.

Luckily, my friends' and family's electronics have a small footprint. They can take their smartphones, tablets or laptops anywhere to stay up to date. Even large-screen TVs can go on a wall and out of the way.

Aging is not easy. We watch younger generations doing things easily, while our learning curve is steeper.

I am sure it is difficult to visit me in a place where my friends and family may live someday. They probably wonder how I handle it. Most days I do a good job. But some days I do not. I must adjust every day while I keep training my brain so it will stay sharp.

Although I have lost some physical function living in facilities, I have been able to adapt and improve my life. After living almost 17 years in nursing homes, I am working part time, which keeps me engaged and involved.

I would hope my friends and family would come to visit to see me thrive in an institutional setting. Although it took determination, skill and persistence, I think with equal ability and drive a successful move into long-term care is possible for any of them.

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Comments

Hi Kathleen

It is always lovely to read your insightful posts. It is so true that i think people find visiting relatives a mixed blessing. As you know I did my PhD in this area and what struck me was my friends and family in their 50's and over would say, 'I am never going to end up in one of those places.

It will be a great day when we can at least say it is not an ideal option but there are some good ones out there that i wouldn't mind living in.

That will be a great day.

Cheers
Ralph

Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...