Caring for older adults

As I was leaving the nursing facility today I stopped and had a chat with the facility director. She told me that the feedback she got from staff regarding our care meeting was very positive, and she was glad that they listened to me and that they came up with some ideas on how to enchance my mother’s care.
I mentioned to her what I said to the staff at the beginning of the meeting. I feel that people who do this type of work are truly extraordinary people – I think I called them angels. The work is so hard and sometimes thankless and can also be depressing. I told her of my concern for the future – for us "baby boomers" and how our care will be approached.
I remember I felt this way when my dad had his accident (he had an accident that made him quadriplegic and he died 18 months after the accident), and I find myself feeling this way again. I really question whether we keep people alive too long.
I am not trying to say that we should kill people off, but at some time we lose our quality of life and we become something that is not us – not even close to us. And yet we have the drugs and the technology to keep people confined to beds for their entire day, or confined to beds and wheel chairs where they sit, stare and just exist.
I’m not sure what it right – but the thought of living that way really scares me.
And then, there is this whole group of wonderful people who dedicated themselves to caring for people in this stage of their life. Not all of them are all that altruistic, but most that I have seen in this facility do things on a day to day basis that I cannot imagine myself doing  – and yet they do it in a graceful and caring way.
When I spoke to the facility director, I mentioned that I though that as a society we do not have a clue of what to do with people as they age and get sick. And the problem may only get worse as my generation continues to age. Where are we going to put people – who will take care of them – what is it going to cost?
And the saddest thing of all, what do we pay people who devote themselves to providing this critical kind of care? This profession and the teaching profession, in my estimation, are the two most underpaid professions in our country. And yet we say we value older adults and that our youth are critical to our future success. The logic escapes me…..
I truly hope their comes a time when we figure out what top notch care for older adults is, and provide it as a matter of course, and not simply to those that can afford it.
My mom is fortunate. When my dad died, she decided to take out nursing home insurance, so much (but not all) of her expenses are being covered. And she has me to watch over her care and to make sure things are going the way that they should. But I understand from the staff there that she is the exception and not the rule. So what do you do for those who cannot afford and do not have family or friends that can  adovcate for them and/or assume the 24/7 caregiver role (and should that ever even be an expectation) – who worries about them – who cares for them.
My mom has me – I have no children – I guess maybe someday I may be faced with being in some broken down institution with no one to advocate for me and no one who cares. That also is scary. But if that occurs, hopefully I will be so blissfully unware because I have been kept alive longer than I should have and my brain is mush, and I won’t even be aware.
Just some dark thoughts that have crept into my brain…….

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