nursing home

the perfect storm: when class, age, race and environmental catastrophe converge

In an excoriating piece in Truthdigcolumnist Chris Hedge labels Hurricane Sandy “the Katrina of the North.” He begins and ends with 76-year-old Avgi Tzenis, whose house in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, was wrecked when three feet of water and sewage swept through it five weeks ago. She was widowed last year after nursing her husband through years of dementia, and has no idea how she’s going to pay for repairs.

a failure of imagination

I just finished How We Age: A Doctor’s Journey into the Heart of Growing Old, by Marc Agronin, a geriatric psychiatrist. It was Agronin who introduced me to the psychologist’s fallacy, and he reiterates the point in a clip from a Today Show appearance, cautioning against unduly negative assumptions about the lives of the old old. “We have to be very careful and not project our own fears of aging,” he explains. “Their lives can be way better than we imagine.”

how many American nursing home residents would survive a tsunami?

On 9/11, the Animal Rescue League got into Ground Zero faster than Human Services. “They had a plan,” Robert Butler pointed out at the 2008 Age Boom Academy. “How many states practice their nursing home evacuation plans?” The highly safety-conscious Japanese do practice their drills, but it didn’t spare the lives of many elderly residents of tsunami-ravaged Shintona.

What are the odds of ending up in a nursing home?

I’m making my way through Never Say Die, Susan Jacoby’s screed against the perky marketing of “the new old age.”   More on that soon, much more, but it’s in her first chapter that I found the following statistics, from Muriel Gillick’s The Denial of Aging:  “The latest prediction is that if you are just now turning 65, you have nearly a 50 percent chance of spending some time in a nursing home before you die.  Approximately 10 percent of those nursing home stays will be short-term, intended for recuperation after a hospitalization. The remainder will be for the long haul, with discharge to a funeral parlor, not to the family home.”