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!