Nursing Homes – summer camp? Or

I read a wonderfully positive and happy account of life in a retirement community in the New York Times today.

It paints a picture of fellowship, wellness, art, music and gracious retirement living. The golden years. Imagine a couple, smiling, with a golf cart, or a delicious meal and glass of wine before them. Imagine a Viking Cruise Ad, but without the water. Worth every penny of $5,000 a month.

Is this what life in a nursing home really looks like?

While I refuse to reject the notion and image of joyful retirement living outright, I will say I don’t think it reflects the average nursing home stay or long term care experience.

I think a more realistic portrayal is sterile, includes spending most of your time in one room, in bed, with a tv remote and call button. Three mediocre or unappetizing meals left on a bedside table, a weekly bath, and an invite to bingo or Sunday hymn sing weekly. Is that worth $5,000 a month? Medicare thinks it is. So does Medicaid.

When looking at a retirement community for your loved one – look carefully. Not just the pretty brochures and billboards. Visit the facility. See the difference in levels of care – the facilities, costs and activities.

Assisted Living should not look like rehab, which should not look like Long Term Care. Long term care is just below a hospital setting, so would cocktail hour at 4pm really be appropriate? Golf Carts? I doubt Medicare would consider that a health care need.

Again – I want to live in a world where retirement years are the best years… I just don’t think the average for profit nursing home in Virginia provides this quality of life. Please prove me wrong!



Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at