Let's face it. We're all aging, and many of us are going to live long enough to spend our last years in nursing homes. We hope we'll be tended by compassionate caregivers who have only our best and individual interests at heart, but given the nightmarish stories we hear about some nursing homes, it's important to become familiar with an environment in which our parents, our spouses, our partners or ourselves eventually may live.
This book, written by a Canadian social worker, examines not only the various stages of aging and loss of control, but the psychological issues and deep emotions affecting friends, family members, primary caregivers, out-of-town caregivers and nursing home residents themselves. There are scores of legal, medical and financial considerations to work out when someone can no longer live at home. And then there are the day-to-day considerations such as doing laundry, building new relationships, dealing with roommates, asking for help and finding privacy in a semi-public setting.
Among the most valuable chapters in this book is one titled "Making a Home Better," which includes wonderful advice on how a loved one can influence what goes on inside a nursing home, beginning with involving the affected resident in changes. Silin is practical, recognizing that loved ones who donate time or money to a nursing home can affect what happens when they're not there. He encourages working with other families, emphasizes finding ways to build on the good things the facility may be doing and reminds readers that when it comes to people and organizations, "change doesn't happen overnight." His inclusion of real-life stories from the families he's encountered over 20 years anchors the book compassionately.