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Stephanie Pick: Aging parents letter shows lack of understanding

This Nov. 27, 2013, photo, shows caregiver Warren Manchess recording information as Paul Gregoline sits in his favorite chair, in Noblesville, Ind. Burgeoning demand for senior services like home health aides is being met by a surprising segment of the workforce: Other seniors. Twenty-nine percent of so-called direct-care workers are projected to be 55 or older by 2018 and in some segments of that population older workers are the single largest age demographic. With high rates of turnover, home care agencies have shown a willingness to hire older people new to the field who have found a tough job market as they try to supplement their retirement income.(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

This Nov. 27, 2013, photo, shows caregiver Warren Manchess recording information as Paul Gregoline sits in his favorite chair, in Noblesville, Ind. Burgeoning demand for senior services like home health aides is being met by a surprising segment of the workforce: Other seniors. Twenty-nine percent of so-called direct-care workers are projected to be 55 or older by 2018 and in some segments of that population older workers are the single largest age demographic. With high rates of turnover, home care agencies have shown a willingness to hire older people new to the field who have found a tough job market as they try to supplement their retirement income.(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

To the editor:

Big decisions are hard enough without someone else making gross generalizations with disrespect and lack of empathy. I am referring to the March 18 column in which the writer purports that the only good option for elder care is for adult children to keep their parents at home rather than utilize a nursing facility.

While remaining at home can be a best option for some families, there are many contingencies that make choosing a nursing facility the right option for other families. To call this “the easy way out” shows an enormous lack of understanding for what some of those situations entail.

As a nurse who has worked in a skilled nursing facility, in home care and in the outpatient setting, I have assisted and supported countless families as they struggle with this very decision. The writer encourages the “old-fashioned approach,” but the fact is, we don’t live in old-fashioned times. Home life is very different now than for the generations before us.

I don’t see families choosing nursing homes because they want free time to go to the club and play bridge. It is more likely because it’s not safe to leave their elderly parent alone but they cannot afford to stay home themselves. Private home care to assist may be an option for some, but it is cost prohibitive for most.

Sometimes, those elderly parents who require care have significant medical needs. They may have dementia that renders them unsafe to themselves or others. Caregivers may have their own significant health issues. Many caring family members are long distance and manage the best they can with that constraint. A list of individual challenges would be endless. Every family has its own situation to consider, not always apparent to an outsider. It is wonderful for the letter writer and his mother that he is able to stay home. But to pass judgment on those who can’t, and in such a critical way, breaks my heart for all the people who have made a different decision for all the right reasons for their families.

Stephanie Pick

Florence

The writer is a registered nurse.

Legacy Comments9

I'd like to thank the Gazette for setting this up for a dialog to take place on the communities submissions. I find it unfortuante that there are very few places where real dialog actually takes place without having attacks or put downs, In Stephanie Pick response "shows lack of understanding" I am a little confused for on reading your response - I thought that Peter Smolenski said many things that you state, that there are many different circumstances that require many different actions in the hopes to meet the needs of the situation. What I liked about Peter's statement was that he was doing the best he could to honor his mothers request to stay home. He never said that he wouldn't at some point have to make a decision to seek some other ways to support and take care of his mother. But I think he was pointing out that our present society too quickly pushes the elederly off instead of taking in which some see as a "sacrifice" that many do willingly and yes sadly fewer are making this "sacrifice". I don't say this lightly for one does sacrifice ones own interests to take care of someone else. I am facing the same decisions with my parents and it is a balancing act to honor thier wishes and their safety and comfort. It's not easy but I honor anyone who takes care of their family members.

Thank you for an actual intelligent response .Very unlike some of the guilt trips letters people have been writing, saying I wrote things I never did. Thanks for actually reading what I wrote and the best to you and your parents.

The problem with (writer)of this letter to the paper "purports" things I never wrote. Learn how to read and comprehend what is written before you put words I never wrote in print.

Final word for me on this:Thanks for the flood of phone calls and emails of support from all the old folks who took the time to contact me. I got calls of support on this as far away as Florida! You have to take the good with the bad, I have also received hate mail, personal attacks online and more from people feeling guilty about things they may have done. Those were your choices you made for your own reasons not mine. I also find it interesting that the only comments made to the paper were posted on other people's letters to the editor about my column, not on my page here. You shouldn't be afraid to comment to the person who wrote the article. In fact you can call even me (anything you want). I'm very easy to talk to!

my number is in the phone book!

The writer of this letter obviously works for a nursing home "the writer purports that the only good option for elder care is for adult children to keep their parents at home rather than utilize a nursing facility." I never said this. There are always circumstances and nothing is ever black and white. I'm sorry if I made you feel guilty or something. And for the record I am disabled with very limited income.....yet somehow I can make it happen that my mother who gave me life can stay where she wants and deserves to be. People are so self-centered these days. Forgotten old fashioned family values is not surprise, but very disappointing. Hope your kids don't try and get rid of you and divide up all your stuff, while you could still be living comfortable, happy and very safe in your own home. Seriously good luck to you on that one. I have received calls from as far as Florida from sweet little old ladies thanking me for writing said article. For all the people feeling guilty out there and writing me hate mail, the calls of support more than make up for it. I don't mind. Keeps the conversation going. Hate away! (or lose the guilt some other way)

Purport is an interesting choice of word. Go back and read what I wrote. I NEVER Wrote "the only good option for elder care is for adult children to keep their parents at home rather than utilize a nursing facility." Show me where it says that?

I agree with Ms Pick. I think we have to realise and accept that all of us care for our aging parents in the best way we can. We pay for their care either with our time and lost income or only with our wallets. The care given in residential facilities is often far better than we could give at home, since none of the facilities relies on only one caretaker 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And the caretakers I have met are personally invested in the well being and comfort of the residents. Let's just accept that our choices are personal, and none is better than another, but all are better than neglecting the elderly.

I would say some choices are definitely better than others. And I agree anything is better than neglecting the elderly.

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