Hell No, We Won’t Go!!

Is assisted living, or its even less appealing twin, housing for the elderly once known as the nursing home, in your future?  I am amazed at how many people, even those who seem to be doing everything to stay healthy and engaged in life, see this as inevitable.  It is as if they have absorbed the rhetoric of the long-term care industry, so the only question is whether they can afford the premiums now to safeguard their future.  My question is, what kind of future are we talking about? 

My 92 year old mother has been in a nursing home (she prefers ‘hospital’) for three years.  It is in Canada and therefore the costs are affordable — about $2500/month for everything, including her complex assortment of meds.    The staff is excellent but overworked.  There are programs like painting class and baking, a hair and nail salon, various religious activities including a Catholic mass twice a month (the Zetter Center is Lutheran-affiliated), and every so often, pub night with a cash bar and entertainment.  Yet, for all that, you cannot escape the reality that it is a kind of incarceration where you don’t get to decide when to eat or bathe and dress or undress, or even when to use the toilet.  Hardly a day goes by when I  don’t wish I had the ability to care for my mother myself.  And I am in awe of those of us, who aren’t exactly spring chickens ourselves, who do just that — care for our elders in our own homes.   It’s one of those mixed blessings of longevity that we haven’t quite figured out yet.  A good subject to bring up with our own children while we can make such decisions (another topic for another post).

Visiting my mother has firmed my resolve to resist such a fate at all costs.  So I was excited to come across the story about a bunch of feisty women, Canadians, too, as it happens, who have a very different vision of how to house ourselves better as we age.  Here is a brief excerpt:

Control of Our Lives

We don’t want just to be taken care of, we want to participate.We are baby boomers who moved from watching TV shows like Father Knows Best to reading Betty Freidan and Germaine Greer. We took to heart Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying. We fought to change the society we were living in then because we believed in having more control over our own lives as women. And we’re not about to give up the control we’ve worked so hard for. We want to run the place, not have our decisions made by a board of directors made up of guys in suits.  Herizons magazine’s cover story, Raise the Roof.

More mind-openers for you:

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