My dissertation data collection coupled with helping find Long-Term Care for an elder has left me in a curious position. I have been a committed proponent of elder healthcare that combines the medical and social model. Attending body as well as spirit. The commitment was rooted in two phenomenal work experiences with teams committed to the dual model. Keep in mind, we didn’t call them by the academic term–medical and social models. We simply were committed to holistic care at Winter Growth and at Asbury Methodist Village. Both non-profits had created a team and an environment of care that allowed an elder to thrive, not simply survive. They have been my banner as I designed my dissertation.
Sadly, as I am exposed to different settings near and far, I am seeing just how rare this commitment is. As I use a reliable instrument to assess holistic dementia care, I’m seeing just how muddy the water is. Home-like environments vary and assessment is quite subjective . Optimal staffing numbers are good, but if staff is not trained to provide more than superior medical care, the quality of life of the elder is seriously compromised.
If I have to choose between long life that has little joy, anticipation, or stimulation or a shorter life with much joy, anticipation or stimulation—-I vote for the latter. You can put me in the prettiest home-like environment, keep me physically clean and well-doctored, surround me with a bevy of caregivers; but if I am not offered opportunity to play, to contribute, to be integral to the community—-I have a death sentence far worse than a shorter life.
I suspect I’m not alone. As the later Baby Boomers enter the Long-Term Care market, we’ll expect a far different delivery than what is being offered today. In fact we are looking for it for our parents now.