This post is the first in a series on surviving in a long-term care facility (a.k.a., nursing home).
CHAPTER ONE: RESPECT – STAFF RESPECTING RESIDENTS/RESIDENTS MAINTAINING THEIR SELF-RESPECT
I’ve meant to write this for a long while. Where do I begin? What happened to respecting our elders?
I confess, in both my personal life and my profession, I like (even enjoy) talking/socializing with Senior Citizens. Apparently this puts me in a very unusual, small group of people. I’ll call us, Senior-Likers (SL’s). Further, I am not afflicted with gerontophobia (fear of old people), which is apparently pervasive in our society.
For some seniors, many times through no fault of their own, it is no longer possible to live safely in their private homes. Their health has deteriorated, their independence is gone, and they need help safely carrying out their activities of daily living. Therefore, some seniors must enter a living arrangement where their health and well-being are protected, such as a long-term care facility.
As a mental health professional specializing in Gerontology, and an SL, I spend many hours providing my services in rehab/nursing facilities. Unfortunately, these settings are usually populated with mature adults, many of whom are quite vulnerable (the reason they are there). These adults must rely upon a “call light” to signal staff designated to come to their aid. Unfortunately, many times they end up waiting long periods for help with bodily functions which cannot wait (i.e., toileting). So why are there staff, who are there to help, who DON’T or WON’T help? Given such a scenario, maintaining one’s self-respect, dignity, and sense of independence can become quite challenging.
Consider that dependent seniors must then rely upon others to meet needs they have likely med independently since early childhood, i.e., toileting. Unfortunately, those staff upon whom they rely are sometimes simply ‘job applicants,’ and I use the term loosely, who even McDonald’s won’t consider hiring. Like most of us they must work for a living. But unlike most people in helping positions, their love of humanity ends with themselves. I personally do not come from wealth and high social class, and I can relate to sometimes holding jobs where the pay was my sole motivation to go to work. However, shouldn’t we draw lines when our less than fulfilling, even unpleasant, job duties involve assisting others with very intimate activities of daily living? Before going on I must acknowledge that there are exemplary caregiving staff who are respectful, caring, and who make an incredible effort to help those they serve feel respected.
What’s a possible solution/answer to caring for others respectfully, even when the duties involve unpleasant, yet essential acts of caregiving? It seems very apparent. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” the Golden Rule. Simple, easy to remember, even wise advice, I dare say. Are we SL’s the only ones remembering this adage?
More entries will follow soon. Please share your thoughts on the topics discussed. I greatly appreciate your feedback on these important issues.