Words in Long Term Care that Should Disappear
I try to read most of the articles regarding seniors, trends, housing, dementia and aging. There are a few words I constantly see or hear that drive me crazy that should be taken out of the vocabulary of journalists. I even hear professionals and families use these words which just don’t feel positive. “Nursing Home”, “Put (for example “I am going to “Put” my mom in a nursing home), “Facility” are a just few that have much better and more positive choices.
“Nursing home” is in the media all the time as a place where seniors live. Nursing Homes bring back memories from years ago of seniors in dark, dreary, sterile facilities where they’re lined up in their wheel chairs staring at the wall. The number of “Nursing Home” beds is shrinking. About a quarter of the skilled nursing facility beds will be gone by 2022. One reason is the cost of care in long term skilled nursing settings, in Oregon the average cost is $263/day. With the push to repeal and replace Obamacare, the long-term goal of cutting costs, and very good senior living alternatives Nursing Homes are slowly reducing their available beds. In addition, many skilled nursing facilities are increasing the number of rehab patient beds and reducing the number of long term stay beds — rehab beds are more lucrative than skilled nursing beds. When talking about senior living it’s important to differentiate between “Nursing Home” and other options such as “Assisted Living, Memory Care or Adult Care Homes”. These are very different than nursing homes and way more positive living situations for our seniors.
Assisted Livings Communities have been around since the 80’s and should be a mainstream word used rather than Nursing Homes. Continuing to use the words “Nursing Home” to illustrate a place where seniors go when they can’t stay home safely anymore continues to perpetuate the very old-fashioned and very depressing stereotype of a senior in “the home”. Assisted Living communities are vibrant cruise ships on land. In addition to very nice individual, private apartments they serve three meals a day, they have activities all day, exercise classes, outings on the bus and access to a nurse, med aide and caregivers if needed. Assisted Living Communities are a chance for seniors to socialize and be with others who have similar life experiences while getting the personal care and attention they need. Another assisted living option is an Adult Care Home which is a private home that cares for only five residents. Residents are members of the family and get incredible, compassionate care in a comfortable home setting.
Many adult children say they “Put” their mom in a “facility”. One “Puts” a sack of potatoes in the pantry, they put the mail in the mailbox, one puts makeup on. You don’t “Put” a person anywhere. “Facility” sounds so sterile and more like a maintenance building or warehouse than a place to live. It’s much kinder to say, “I helped my Mom “move” to an assisted living “community”.” Assisted living is a community. People develop friendships like they had in years past. They watch out for and help each other. They share resources, experiences, fun and joy. It’s a community within a building, it’s not a “facility”. Hopefully Mom had some input on where she was moving and it’s an exciting opportunity for her to enjoy retirement by not having to do chores. Using “Put” and/or “Facility” dehumanizes a senior and makes their move sound industrial or sterile.
Using more positive word choices for a move will be received by your senior loved one much better than common words we hear way too often. If we continue to use “Nursing Home” to describe senior living seniors will resist moving to the detriment of their health and wellbeing. Include seniors in choosing the best community for them so they don’t feel they have been “Put” somewhere. Seniors will enjoy the sense of togetherness that comes with assisted living because it is a community, not a facility. A positive approach ensures a positive outcome. Please help make the move successful by using “Assisted Living”, “Move” and “Community”, you won’t regret it.