Life in an Assisted Living Facility

This week the Washington Post published an interesting, extended story seeking to share information on life in assisted-living facilities. The article, written by a man living in one of these homes, paints a grim picture of life for seniors needing extra day-to-day care. The text was adapted from a literary journal, The Feathered Flounder, which showcases work of people over sixty years old.

Each New York elder law attorney at our firm appreciates that it is important for local residents to understand the realities of long-term care so that decisions can be made as early as possible to plan for the ideal care.

The man in this case suffered from early-onset Parkinson’s disease in his 40s. For a decade he lived at his home, able to manage with at-home care. However, as his condition deteriorated, and he ended up in a wheelchair, the man decided to move into an assisted-living facility. He was only 53 years old. He admits knowing that it was a unique choice, considering that most residents were decades older and facing far more severe health problems.

One of his biggest challenges, he admits, is watching his older friends age and die. In his eight years at the facility he has already seen dozens pass away. Considering his age, he suspects that he might eventually have to stand by as hundreds of his fellow residents (and close companions) pass away. He describes it as “a sadness beyond words.”

He noted the extreme vulnerability of many residents, often sick, eating with strangers, cut off from support groups, and sleeping in unfamiliar beds.

The resident had difficulty connecting with administrators of the facility whose goal, he felt, was to “strip us of our autonomy.” He is clear to distinguish the management team who run the facility with the day-to-day caregivers who actually provide the necessary care. The caregivers are overworked, underpaid, and the glue that holds the facility together.

The writer admits that assisted living facilities can certainly improve the life of many people and their families. But it is a mistake to assume that one-size-fits-all.

The full, somewhat sad, tale can be read here.

New York elder attorneys know that there is not always an easy answer to questions about aging gracefully and happily. For one thing, not all long-term care facilities are created equal. The variance between the best and worst homes is wide, and so it is important to do everything possible to position oneself to move into the best home if possible
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