This article in Monday’s NYT hit home with both my brother and me.
Our mother died three plus years ago at the age of 98. As macular degeneration, loss of hearing, and evolving senility diminished her capacities, we persuaded her that she could no longer live on her own in her own apartment. This meant moving her out of her apartment of forty years into assisted living.
The first home we chose had a great reputation and a number of facilities in the city of Los Angeles. It trumpeted all the bells and whistles that large assisted living facilities provide, but we found the place to be grossly inadequate in the healthy and safe care of our mother.
As we packed up her belongings and prepared to move her to a new and far less expensive home (the first home’s prices kept rising every few months), we discovered that the housekeeping had not done its job very well at all. Her closets and drawers were filthy. Her clothes were thrown haphazard out of sight. She was also constantly falling and had bruises all over her body.
We decided that enough was enough and that we needed to move her to a safer home. We chose this time a far smaller home with a staff of 6 men and women who gave to our mother everything she needed and everything we hoped she would have received in the first place. I have no idea what these angels of care were paid, but we told them how fortunate we felt that they were taking such good care of our mother and treating her with such dignity, compassion, and love.
The first home was all about the investors and money, not the care of the elderly. The second home was about my mother’s care. It also cost 60% of what we paid in the first facility thereby supporting the notion that sometimes you don’t get what you pay for.
What struck both my brother and me the most in the article is that the caregiver was fine doing all that hard and often unpleasant work on the front lines for minimal income because she knew the next of kin were demonstrably grateful. That says a lot about her, to be sure. Caregivers like this woman and those who cared for our mother deserve all the accolades they rarely receive.