Say NO to Nursing Homes

I don't think anyone would ever be caught saying, "Oh man, I can't wait until I go into a nursing home!"

Some may financially plan for a nursing home "just in case" or "you never know". Many friends joke about how wild they are going to act when they get into a nursing home, surrounded by friends, engaging in rowdy, drunken wheelchair races down the hallway and food fights in the cafeteria.

Although we don't want to face it head on, that scenario is probably not going to happen. I have to admit openly that I always say, " I will never go into a nursing home", when in fact, I simply don't know.

People (myself included) will even soften the circumstance in their minds by hoping for an assisted living community - the lesser of two evils.

Although many changes in today's society boast to be better, more convenient, more cost effective, are they really? I mean, 24 hour call service is great, until you have to click through at least twenty prompts and possibly never reach an actual person. When you go to visit a doctor, you rarely get a face to face conversation with the doctor - or nurse practitioner - who is most often the one you are going to see anyway. You sit on the exam table and watch the medical professional ask questions as they type away and stare at a screen.

We have to admit that a few of these innovative concepts really make life better, like the order ahead apps for Dunkin' Donuts or Panera Bread. So here is a fresh new innovation to nursing homes: "Senior Cohousing".

This is not a totally new idea. This invention was introduced in Denmark in the 1960's and to America in 1988. The concept is that each senior has there own private apartment or home, but also have access to "shared spaces". So, it could be a group of apartments, condos or even houses where seniors are surrounded by their friends. They share common areas such as a fitness center, library, garden, movie room and dining area to name a few.

Wait a minute. Sounds like a college dormitory to me. Once was enough for that! Well, unfortunately, as we "adagioage", we can fall into the trap of being lonely or isolated, and being in a nursing home only compounds that.

Many centenarians live to be the age they are because of the strong sense of community. Usually they live with their children, but they are valued as people of honor because of their experience and knowledge - not forgotten in a nursing home because their lives are viewed as being basically over.

It is proven the aging well includes a healthy, vibrate social life - a strong sense of community. Unlike the centenarians who live in modest communities, most of us don't relish the thought of living with our grown children. Living in a community where people in our same age bracket support one another, celebrate with one another and help one another can go a long way to helping our overall wellness. Not to mention that this option is way more affordable than nursing homes, more private and more safe! Ok, maybe the wheelies in the parking lot are a little risky, but we will have earned the right!

The downside of course is less level of care than assisted living. I say "less level", which means we may need to rely on Uber to get us to our doctor's appointments. I'd gamble on "less level" care rather than "low level" care offered in many nursing homes. And please - I am NOT attacking nursing home employees - they are understaffed, overworked and underpaid!! I have a high respect for anyone working in the healthcare sector. They have so many rules and regulations placed on them that they cannot possibly take time with every resident or patient.

We need to take matters into our own hands. Not many people can afford nursing homes anyway, and nowadays we are very passionate about our sense of control, privacy and individuality. Cohousing offers many benefits, the most important being our emotional and social wellness!

Ok - who is going in with me on this? Crazy Karen for years to come!

Laughter is the BEST Medicine

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