Sunday, July 12, 2015

Seniors Suffer Isolation In Many Long Term Care Facilities

Where would you be without your cell phone? Who would you be without the ability to communicate with whomever you chose at whatever time you wanted?

How would you know what was going on in the world without the ability to click and search on a TV for the news, weather, entertainment and general information on daily life and living?

Magazines. Newspapers. Computers.


What would your life be like, what would your world be like without the freedom to access information?

It would be like living in many long term care facilities.

Do you really believe everyone in Long Term Care Facilities are "so far gone" they have no ability to think, to reason, to care?  THINK AGAIN.

Yes. Residents can have a TV in the room. Provided they can afford it or it's allowed as part of their "property allowance" under the rules of Medicaid, if they're recipients; usually a maximum of $999 in cash and assets.

Maybe there's a "common area", possibly more than one, where a TV is placed, usually on the wall. 

Who controls the TV?  The Staff on duty, of course.

What's on?  Often it's whatever someone thinks they'd personally like to watch and sometimes not appropriate for individuals with mental challenges. 

No one talks about "screening" TV programs in facilities and so programs that can often depress or even frighten minds that no longer can sort through reality and "make believe" are "entertained" with murder and gore. 

Some facilities "park" residents in front of a TV much like parents parking children -- as a "sitter", something to do, a way to relieve the need to watch, care for and find something constructive or stimulating for the mind or body.

ISOLATION COMES IN MANY FORMS.  In Mom's previous facility, there are books on a shelf in the "living room" just off the main entrance to the facility. It looks good. As it's meant to do. I've only seen one woman reading books in all the time we've visited. 

Magazines? We've started taking some to a resident but haven't seen any and certainly not on the residential floors in any "gathering place" for residents.

Inside the lower level Activities Room there are some Videos and DVD's. Not on the floors where residents live and where they would have their TV's/entertainment centers.

Locating the Activity Room "in the basement" of the facility -- where there's also the laundry, the very small "gift shop" for residents and some facility offices -- is not convenient to the majority of residents who are physically incapable of making their way to the location. Then, too, it's closed "after hours" and so residents must plan to visit to pick up a movie; a major feat for those with physical and/or mental limitations.

Interesting Point to Consider:  Walking around the facility when we were trying to find a better place for Mom to live, we were "impressed" by these "features".  

We didn't fully analyze or consider the limitations but accepted the claims made and what we saw as being "inclusions" when they were really exclusions for many in the aging population.

Physical challenges and growing medical problems isolate residents and so do actions on the part of facilities to limit provisions of services and availability of choices.

You may not have the choices you believe you'll have when you grow into the very late, later years of life so many are achieving.  

Are you ready to give in and give up as they learn to do?

Or, will you begin now to raise your voice, open your eyes and see more clearly how we continue to accept, tolerate and even propagate these conditions by not recognizing, actively working to change and ensuring full transparency within Long Term Care Facilities nationwide.

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