Nursing Home – A promise that cannot always be kept
Promise you won’t put me away. It is hard to say no to that request. But it often is even harder to honor it.
For many, the idea of being sent to a nursing home facility implies abandonment. Older Americans remember the poorhouse , where the old and infirm were hidden away to die. But many younger people also are repelled by the idea.
There’s now a wider spectrum of facilities catering to different levels of need, but even the best ones can feel institutional. Daily life is often rigidly regulated, robbing residents of autonomy, and the familiar faces and spaces of a person’s life are gone.
This unfortunately is the perception. With this perception loved ones pressure their family to promise not to let them live there. Seeking to comfort, a promise is made, a promise that cannot always be kept. Nurses are hired, changes to rooms, stairs, ramps and rails are added. All helping for a while, but never fulfilling the promise. What is a family member to do?
Resources exist in Rhode Island to help caregivers aid loved ones during the period of increased need. However, there are limitations as to what unskilled people can provide in their home. Many improvements have been made, but there are still limitation. When all options are exhausted and the medical professionals recommend your loved one be moved to a skilled facility, the echo of the promise is loud.
Below is a link to a compelling article about making promises that sometimes you cannot keep.
A photograph album shows Sarah Harris and her husband, Ernie, on their wedding day. Three years later, Ernie, who was 53, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)