Grow Old with Me.

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If you’re asking how we can help the elderly without nursing homes and similar institutions, my friend LDP has the answer.

They stay in their homes with community supports. I help run a company that does this for people with developmental disabilities and it can easily transfer to the elderly community. In fact, there already is a program in Indiana that does this through the Aged and Disabled Medicaid waiver. Nursing facility lobbyists don’t want community supports to happen because it means that they lose profits. They push institutionalization instead. Every Medicaid patient is “worth” $83,000 a year to them. Community supports can be done at that rate or even less. We have made it seem like nursing facility placement is the only option and this is patently untrue. I am not disparaging nurses or CNAs at all. Keep them; lose the facility.

I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him. This article seems to be an excellent introduction to the topic. I recommend reading the entire essay. It will make you think long and hard.

It’s Time to Abolish Nursing Homes, by Sara Luterman (The Nation)

If three out of four Americans want to spend their final years at home, why do so many of us end up in institutional care?

 … Nursing homes allow for an economy of scale. Feeding, washing, and otherwise seeing to the needs of elderly and disabled residents all at once is more efficient than addressing those needs on an individual basis. But this efficiency comes at the expense of human dignity. Ari Ne’eman, a senior research associate at the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, points out, “From Grandpa Simpson to Junior Soprano, popular culture constantly acknowledges our society’s worst-kept secret: Nursing homes are awful places to live.

Unfortunately, we’ve set up our health care and human services systems to send vast numbers of seniors and people with disabilities there anyway.”

That leaves us with a few basic questions: Why do nursing homes exist? How have they so thoroughly embedded themselves in the American life cycle? And what can we do instead? …

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