“Assisted Living” Versus Assisted Dying

My father is currently in a “rehab/assisted living facility.” I’m grateful beyond words that he’s leaving before the weekend, because he does not belong there. He spends his days and nights holed up in a 12′ x 12′ room, only leaving for physical therapy, because facing the grim reality of the hallways is just too depressing. There’s a faded bulletin board proudly announcing “Chef Jackie’s Special Butterscotch Pancakes” on Tuesday and a “Shopping Outing!” on Thursday, but the false excitement injected into these “special” events makes both of us cringe. My question is: Does anyone belong in this place?

This facility’s sign might mention rehab, but the truth is that my dad’s twenty years younger than anyone else in the building, and the thing most of those people suffer from can’t be treated.

It’s old age.

It’s a debilitating mixture of dementia and assorted physical ailments.

But most of all, it’s despair.

As I chatted with my dad last night over his tray of boiled chicken, a man down the hall began crying out. Over and over he rasped, “HELP! … Someone please help! …We’re trapped – help us, PLEASE!”

The nurse on call reassured us that every time she checks on this patient, he and his roommate are both safe in bed. My father murmured, “Poor guy – no one told him the war is over.” I pictured a frail, wizened grandfather curled up in a foxhole, hopelessly seeking a way out for himself and his wounded comrade. As far as I know, he feels exactly that desperate. Does he understand he’s in a nursing home? Is he trying to escape the smell of canned vegetables and bed pans, or is he fighting something none of us can see?

I am not bashing the staff at this facility. They’re kind and responsive, and the building is clean and has sunny patios lined with flowerpots. My father even says the food is all right. And I know that places like this can be a saving grace for families. When my maternal grandmother was deep, deep inside her battle with Alzheimer’s and both my parents had run out of leave at work, they placed her in a similar “home.” It let my mom keep her job. It let our family release a breath we’d been collectively holding for months. Sometimes life just plays out so even the best choice – the right choice – feels wrong.

And yet… I can’t help but think there must be a better way for people to unwind the spool of their last days on Earth. I don’t think it’s a simple question of money. Even in luxury facilities, it’s a sad farce to pretend the blank-faced lost souls filling wheelchairs might recover their zest for life through “Sparkle Manicure Mondays.” I suppose I still agree with my eighth grade self, who stood alone and supported people’s right to euthanasia during a class debate. Or, as my mom puts it, “If I ever get close to that point, I’ll just walk into the woods and disappear.” There’s simply a state beyond which a person isn’t really living. I think some people are just waiting to die, and making them wait seems cruel.

Yesterday, the big excitement was Mr. Murphy’s attempted joy ride. My parents were rocking on the front porch when a man in a rumpled bathrobe wandered by, scanning the cars. My mom knew something was amiss and stepped inside to find a nurse. Mr. Murphy was quickly recovered as he stood beside a beige Buick, fumbling in his pocket for imaginary keys. As two attendants led him led back inside, he complained to my father:

“I don’t know why they won’t let me drive.”


68 responses to ““Assisted Living” Versus Assisted Dying

  1. This is such a tough situation. I listen to my parents now talk about all their health problems and watch them get old. I have to say, it’s sometimes difficult and sad. So far, their living situations are okay, but I know just the kind of place you talked about here. I took a tour of one and just wanted to leave.

    • Yes. Watching people you love become frail is a very hard thing. I’m not afraid of physically aging, though – I can accept that reality – but losing myself mentally is my single biggest fear.

      I don’t really think there is a way to make these “homes” feel cheery. It’s no one’s fault. The truth is simply that there’s only so much any staff can do against the sad fact that some people aren’t themselves anymore for years before they go.

  2. Two things come to mind having read this piece. Firstly, when my granny was in her eighties, still in good health and watching her siblings and friends drop off, she questioned just how great it was to be living longer? She was ready to go, she was happy to go. Then, about six years later, in hospital, after a stroke she wanted to go. She even had a note on her chart saying “do not resuscitate” and the second thing I remember is her having another stroke and the doctor not reading her chart and he resuscitated her. My dad, who is normally calm and respective, shouted and roared at the doctor and my granny went to a home until she did go, when she was 92.

    • That hurts my heart, Marie. I’m sure the doctor was trying to do the right thing, but it’s a tragedy to go against someone’s wishes on a decision this enormous. You’ve literally altered the course of their existence.

  3. Oh my. You are so spot on in every line of this post. There’s no dignity in this kind of exit for the aged. What is it about our cultures that makes us so afraid of death? Being kept ‘alive’ is anytime more terrifying.

    • only those who have never truly lived are afraid to die . . . those of us who have are rather looking forward to getting off the rat wheel

    • I don’t have a perfect solution – as someone says further on in the comments, many people aren’t self-aware enough to make this decision in advance, and by the time the issue arises they might not be in a place to choose anymore. It’s very tough. But I do wish that for anyone who truly knew their own mind, they could choose whatever end they wished. Personally, spending some final wonderful time with my loved ones and then slipping away painlessly, surrounded by flowers and full of good memories, seems like a pretty amazing end to my time here.

      One of my favorite things about living in Mexico was seeing how people truly do approach death differently – it’s not desired, but it doesn’t strike terror into people’s hearts, either.

  4. Jennie, my mother went through the slow and miserable decline of Alzheimer’s for 7 years. We were able to care for her at home for most of this time, but it reached a point where she needed professional care and had to go to a nursing home. I’ve spent my share of time in nursing homes, and everything you say is true. In our case, it was a necessary evil that couldn’t be avoided. My usual thought as I left each day was: “Just let me get hit by a bus.” ~James

    • “Necessary evil” is right. If I were in the same situation, I’d also place my parents in a home. What other option is there when you can’t afford to quit your job or pay a caregiver to visit your home five times a a week? But it would have every nerve in my body on edge.

  5. This is such a hard and touchy topic. I would’ve stood by you in that class, msot definetly. But I think the reason most people do not agree with it is that in a lot of cases the patient changes their mind or are in a state in which you do not know how to respond, even if you are a doctor. My grandfather is rapidly getting old and he is ill. He hardly ever leaves the bed, his spine is so crooked that he is walking bent-over for several years. Before his state was like this, he was signing papers, pleading,begging, you name it, that when the situation starts getting really dire with his health – he be put in a nursery home. But, if you ask him now, he would rather do anything except go there. He changed his mind and he no longer,like I used to say, cares about dignity or similar, he wants to get fully healthy and somehow get gifted eternal life.
    In my grandad’s case, the doctors could easily abide to his proud wishes and keep him locked up (he wanted euthanasia too, but it is illegal in our country ofcourse), he would be the man screaming he is imprisoned, throw food at stuff and etc. I am not saying everyone is like this, just trying to depict what I mean when I say it is all very emotional, very tricky.

    • It is tricky, and it’s sad, and I agree with you completely. This is the furthest thing from a black-and-white issue, and none of us know what we’d really desire until we’re face-to-face with the reality of choosing. But… some people do know.

      What I can say for sure is that I’m so sorry to hear about your grandfather. This is an experience that so many people share. *hugs*

  6. Nursing homes are very sad. My grandmother, as she slowly lost control of her faculties, went from a community home, to an assisted living home, and finally to a nursing home.

    The nursing home was the worst. When I’d visit her the hallways were overflowing with the elderly, unmoving in their wheelcheers like they had already died. The lights were dim. It broke my heart.

    I’m with you on euthanasia. I was, and still am, a supporter of Dr. Kavorkian. Wasting away in a wheelchair in a dank, darkly lit hallway is no way to spend one’s final days.

  7. I recently had a similar experience when I took my grandmother to see her sister who had developed Alzheimer’s and was living in a nursing home. I stood there thinking this was no way for anyone to live, while my grandmother tried so hard to engage my great-aunt in conversation even though she looked as if she had already given up.. It was such a sad situation.

    • Hi, Nikki… that’s the hardest part, I think. It’s the fact that even when families visit and bring thoughtful gifts and try to connect through conversation and just generally work SO HARD to make everything feel normal… it simply isn’t possible. I hate it so much when people pour their hearts into a sad thing they just can’t change. I’m glad you were there for your grandmother during that visit.

  8. I’ve never had experience with nursing homes, but I also did a debate on assisted dying in eighth grade, and I was all for it. Death is sad, but sometimes “living” for the sake of having a heart beat and nothing else is sadder.

    • That was simultaneously harrowing and reliving – his story is so bad; hearing someone admit what we all want to say is so good. Thank you, Andra, for this.

      I can’t begin to paste all the quotes that resonated here, but the top three were:

      “Everybody would manage his or her parent’s decline differently. Nobody is proud of himself. We all mess it up. This is partly because there is no good outcome.”

      “My siblings and I must take the blame here. It did not once occur to us to say: “You want to do major heart surgery on an 84-year-old woman showing progressive signs of dementia? What are you, nuts?” … This is not quite true: My brother expressed doubts, but since he was off in Maui, and therefore unable to appreciate the reality of, well, the reality of being near, we discounted his view. And my mother protested. Her wishes have always been properly expressed, volubly and in writing: She urgently did not want to end up where she ultimately has ended up. She had enough sense left to resist—sitting in the hospital writing panicky, beseeching, ­Herzog-like notes, to anyone who might listen—but of course who listens to a woman who scribbles such notes?”

      “The single greatest pressure on health care is the disproportionate resources devoted to the elderly, to not just the old, but to the old old, and yet no one says what all children of old parents know: This is not just wrongheaded but steals the life from everyone involved. … And it seems all the more savage because there is such a simple fix: Give us the right to make provisions for when we want to go. Give families the ability to make a fair case of enough being enough, of the end’s, de facto, having come.”

  9. This brought tears to my eyes.
    I can’t stand that your father is there. Thank god he gets out soon.

    And as much as these places may try, I love you so much for wishing we could leave this earth…happier than from these sorts of places.

    This is actually a cultural phenomenon. In Asian, Indian and many other cultures, unless someone is in need of full time hands-on care, many families have 4 generations under one roof. American culture, by and large, does not support that.

    The saddest thing ever, and this will break your heart, Jennie my love – my cousin worked as a sales person for Assisted Living facilites. She told me, SO MANY people would bring their parent there, and say, “Here. Call me when he/she dies.”

    I tell my brother every day that he is an angel for living with, and taking care of, my mother. He truly is. I love him so much for that.

    • He is out as of one hour ago! He had to fight for it, though…

      Having seen how close many families in Latin America are, I came home and felt lonely. I was sad that my cousins weren’t also my best friends, sad that as my parents age most of the burden will be on me alone, sad that I have aunts and uncles I didn’t invite to my wedding because I simply don’t know them.

      I think families supporting each other in life goes hand in hand with families facing death as a united front. Your ideal is my ideal, and I will have my parents stay with me unless it is absolutely not possible. I’ve seen small toddlers play with old folks who have dementia… there’s almost a beauty in how they can connect because they’re both in a very childlike place.

      Your brother is a shining star.

  10. Sad, and so true. My mother languished in such a place for years; it was horrible. We wanted desperately to have her at home, but her Huntington’s, the frequent falls, the danger to herself, the constant care required… it would have consumed our family, more than it did having her where she was. So, we picked one with pets, and kind staff, and a few things that made it look less… desperate… but it was. Painful read, well said.

    • I am so sorry to hear that. I know you didn’t want her there, and I saw the agony my mom went through when she had to make the same decision with my grandmother. She was protecting me, in part, though there was much more to her choice.

      I am happy that there were pets where your mom was… how wonderful. Even people who don’t know themselves know how to pet a dog. That’s perhaps the simplest kind of love.

    • Have you seen the move “El Mar Adentro / The Sea Inside”?

      It’s based on the true story of a Spanish man who fought for 29 years for this right, and in the end had to go against the law to accomplish his wishes. He recorded his final thoughts before dying, and his main point was that his body is his most precious possession, and no one else should have any control over it.

      • I haven’t, but he is absolutely correct. If we’re serious about “freedom” then surely there is no better expression of freedom than letting a person chose.

  11. I always wanted to go out in a dramatic sword fight. When I’m 80, I hope my grand kids will help me set that up. Not actually do it themselves, mind you, but hire a pirate or something to walk into my room and challenge me to a duel.

  12. I AM an old man . . . and have been through more shit storms than I can remember. This is one I will pass on thank you.

    I reserve the right to end my days with dignity, my way . . . and I hate “special days.” Even they ARE filled with butterscotch pancakes I’d rather chew on the barrel of my .45

    BUT if you sit me in a tribal setting with lots of kids and dogs around and let me tell my old war stories maybe I will reconsider . . . and quit calling everybody a ” youuu motherfucka”!! in my sleep . . . (my wife would appreciate that very much)

    Them savage redskins were far more gracious to their elderly than us modern highly evolved money chasers could ever even imagine . . .

    • “Even they ARE filled with butterscotch pancakes I’d rather chew on the barrel of my .45.” <–This is why I love talking with you.

      And yes, some cultures are built to handle this much, much better than we do. Do you have kids or grand-kids you tell stories to now?

      • only two . . . which is a major disappointment since between us we have five sons and one daughter . . . . I would love to have more grandbabies . . .

        PS I only tell happy stories, screw the rest of them . . .

  13. My Dad is also in an Assisted Living facility near here, but it’s an absolute amazing place. Beautifully decorated, always smells fresh and clean (not my dad’s room, of course) and we would be absolutely lost if we hadn’t found it for him. It’s got its special activities of course, but it’s given him companionship when he had none.

    • That is such good news. I’m so happy to hear it! This is much like my paternal grandmother’s experience. More than one of her kids invited her into their homes and she was like, “Nope! Thanks but no thanks – my friends are all at this joint!”

  14. Dear Jennie, how I hear you and all the other eloquent voices on this thread. I have always been fascinated by the concept of palliative care (hospice). The idea of living until you die, with all your needs cared for: physical, spiritual, emotional et al. Healing the heart is a particular focus. I wish that this principle of seeing a person as the complex sum of many parts could extend to our health system at large.

    • I think people who provide Hospice care are angels. I cannot imagine the amount of compassion and patience and courage that job takes, but I am so grateful that some people are able to give that much of themselves to ease another’s transition.

      If we could focus on healing the heart, as you say, I think we’d be amazed how many other ailments would be alleviated.

  15. I can’t even imagine how to deal with this type of situation. I’ve grown up with only one grandparent, and neither of my parents have had to deal with this decision as of yet. My grandmother just turned 80, but is still very independent, albeit being more careful than she used to be. My parents are still a ways from having to think about it, but the idea of putting either of my parents in one of those places is a horrible thought to me. I would hope that there’d be a way to curb the despair and enjoy life to the very last breath.

    • That is my great hope, too. My mother is very young for her age, and my father is much older than the number of years he’s been around. I have no idea what the future holds for us as a family, but we will try our best to enjoy life as it comes.

  16. For four and a half years, I worked in a nursing home, but in the finance department. My position worked with finance, nursing, the therapy department, and the families of the inmates… err… residents.

    It was bittersweet. Many of the residents were cognizant. Many more were not. Those like your father made my job easier in terms of what I had to get OKed or signed. The rest, the poor souls, wore on me. The job was definitely depressing, and I definitely learned to empathize.

    The sadness clicked one day — I remember it well — it was the breaking point of my tenure there, a woman with dementia — she wasn’t too bad when she came to the facility — was a 180 of her normal self. I saw her on a regular basis, and — despite her not knowing my name — she recognized me. The elevator door opened on her floor. Our eyes met, and my hand was ready to wave. It didn’t, however. She sat in her wheelchair, staring, and when she saw me she raised her hand for a feeble wave. Shocked, my hand rose slowly, forming the open palm when the doors to the elevator closed.

    • I can see this moment in my mind’s eye, and I can feel in my heart why it marked a turning point for you. Isn’t that the crux of the situation – the door is closing on someone, and we want to help them, but it’s just a little too late for everything to work out as nicely as we’d wish?

      I will never forget finding my grandmother’s collection of stuffed cats a few years after she died. (My mom gave her the stuffed cats to replace the real ones she had to give up when she entered the nursing home.) They all still had their tags on, and I saw that she’d written the word “Alzheimers” on them all, over and over again, trying to get the spelling right, or maybe just remember what she’d been diagnosed with. That discovery doubled me over in grief. What could be more terrifying than knowing you’re losing yourself day by day? It would be better to just be yourself one day and a shell the next – the real agony lies in the slow decline.

      • It’s heart-wrenching. I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother’s story.

        It’s probably horrible knowing your in the decline. There is that gray area where one has to realize what they are going through before the condition gets worse, before it fully sets in. Then not knowing has to be “blissful,” but frustrating when others are telling you “no” more often than not.

        There was contentment in being one of the several hundred people cut. It was the push that I needed to move on, and unfortunately I needed another push from my most recent job. Getting comfortable is easy to to. However, the conditions (the nursing home itself and the mentality/physicality of the residents) definitely wore on me.

        But let’s not continue the unhappy talk, it’ll get the best of us. The short-term residents, the in-and-outs, kept my head straight and constantly encouraged me to leave. There was this one older woman who I would visit on a daily basis. It made both of our lives better.

        • What was her name? And you have brought up a good point – I know some wonderful relationships must spring up between some residents and staff who otherwise never would have met. Maybe it’s like blogging – you both know what the deal is, so you cut through all the small talk and get to something real much faster.

          • I don’t remember her name, actually. I want to say it is “Alice.” She seems, from memory, like an Alice. She was funny and snarky. We talked about life, several aspects.

            I agree about the blogging part. I’ve “met” some really cool people on here. It’s strange that we can get a good idea of each other through words. Of course, it’s easier to get familiar with the bloggers who use their actual names, pictures, and tangible stories (no offence to those staying anonymous).

            It’s easier to cut the small talk and get to the heart of conversation, relationships. The small talk, the little aspects that make us who we are, are sprinkled throughout the passion and nitty-gritty we write about.

  17. i was a nurse aide for 20+yrs, and worked in all levels of care during that time. from hospital, to assisted living, to nursing homes, to skilled units, alzheimer’s units, and private homes.

    i can see why you feel that your dad doesn’t belong there, he is much younger and much more able. but isn’t he there for the rehab, not for longterm care? all of the care settings, except hospital and home, are a necessary life component for most of their residents. most people who are there can’t live independently anymore, but can still do many things for themselves. caregiving for a family member is a noble ideal, but not many working families can really manage to provide all the physical cares, plus emotional support, in addition to their daily life activities, for very long. this is the point where the dependent member begins to suffer from loss of emotional support and after that, loss of physical cares. or, at this point, if the dependent family member is very lucky, they will be placed in assisted or nursing level of care, as needed. they will regain some of their independence, even if senile or unable to walk. they will have a stable life, stable cares, every day with people who don’t get burned out or become tired of giving their care. and many families can continue to stay involved in their family member’s life as much as they desire.

    you speak of just walking out into the woods, or what have you, rather than going into a care facility. the thing is, you would not know when that time had arrived, probably due to some kind of dementia, or some difficulty walking/getting around. by the time you would have reached the place to want to just walk away, you would just no longer know it, as you would already have begun to be assisted by other programs and family members. and could a family member just simply let you die when you have lost your memory? would they just drop you in the woods and leave? of course not! they would try to care for you, and most likely, when it became too difficult, they would place you. why? because they care. because they don’t want you to go without, and want you to have all your needs met and live as comfortably as possible. sure, no one wants to live with alzheimers or the inability to move oneself about. but you won’t know you have reached that point, so it is a blessing people can give their family a small sense of freedom, that they can be assured they will not suffer or go without. and they can be as involved as they want.

    the idea that everyone has in their head that any level care home is dirty, stinky, and that the aides ignore or are rough/abusive, or that they are not getting cared for and are ‘suffering’ at these places is by and large not true at all. many say they ‘know what all those places are like’ based on a friends experience, or their own experience with one…but i am here to tell you that while every so often you might encounter a bad place, there are 9/10 places that are good, where the halls don’t stink, dirty laundry is not laying around, and the patients receive all their cares as needed. and of course it is institutional like—it is not a private home. many cite this as ‘a bad thing’ saying it is less nice/good than home. but for most of these folk, home is no longer an option. so given that this is the only choice, these facilities are as individualized as possible, and offer the best care available. and my 20 yrs of experience at at least 3 hospitals, 5 skilled units, 4 assisted living units, and ~20 nursing homes, and at least a dozen private homes, and a hospice, i think i have experienced enough at each place to state that that most places are very good and caring. however there is always one rotten apple; i have encountered about 2 nursing homes that were badly run, badly staffed and thus had patients who were not receiving timely and appropriate care most of the time. these 2 places were both later closed by the state, so bad management or neglect does not go unnoticed or unaddressed. as you can see, though, these ‘bad apples’ are fairly rare and infrequent over all, with only 2 bad places out of 45.

    • I’m glad you stepped in on the positive side as I know there are many good places where you get great care.

      There are those who would do just fine in that situation, but I wouldn’t and I know it.

      I don’t personally believe that dementia blindsides us so fast we can’t know . . . maybe it’s just that we don’t want to know?

      • I do agree with this – I’ve always seen dementia as a slowing creeping thing, which is exactly why I dread it so much and would want to speak up while there was still time. I’d much prefer to be myself one day and gone the next, without knowing that I was slipping away, which is a whole different kind of torture.

    • Hi Kat,

      I really appreciate you weighing in on this. I agree that every facility I’ve visited family in has been clean and full of caregivers who really were committed to their patients. I simply think that there’s only so much caregivers can do to improve the situation in certain kinds of nursing homes. When you have so many hurting or lonely people in one place, it’s bound to be gloomy despite anyone’s best efforts.

      I will say that my paternal grandmother had a wonderful experience, but she was of sound mind and body, just getting on in years. She declined her children’s invitations to live with them, picked a community where many of her friends were living, and thrived there until the day she passed in her sleep. We visited her often and she was genuinely happy with her lot in life. But hers was an ideal case…

      I know some people are better off not being with their families. I also know some people are brokenhearted because their families have essentially abandoned them to die. The experience runs the gamut, and my point is less that assisted living facilities are to blame for anything, and more that where life ends for some people is just a very sad reality to face.

  18. It is not necessarily just age that leads to becoming old. It is life experiences, physical injuries, and so very much more. Doctors tell me I am as physically fit as a 90 year old, yet I am only 35. It is when we realize there is no hope, prescription, or treatment process that can improve things that it begins to age all of us. Falsified glory days of playing cards and back yonder when we could drive like “normal” people are all some people have left. Sad but true, just hope that one day it is not you. For me I might be better off in one of those places sooner rather than later. Then at least I wouldn’t be as much of a daily burden as I am on those around me.

    • I understand at least some part of what you’re sharing. My father can’t drive now, and he knows he won’t ever have a day without pain or the ability to walk more than a few steps at a time again in his life. That is the hardest part for him, too. But I wouldn’t have him anywhere but home as long as my mom and I can provide what he needs. It would be a lie to say his illness isn’t a burden on everyone in the family. Of course it is. But my dad is so much more than his disease and, even though you’re a stranger, I know you are too.

      I hope you don’t think I’m being presumptuous, and of course you should go wherever feels right to you. And yes, if I had to choose between losing my health or my memories, I’d hang onto the memories for dear life.

  19. When I was in my early twenties, I worked in the office of a nursing home. It was then that I knew I never wanted to be in one. I try to see it from both sides, the reason family members put their loved ones in a home, the aged with no one to care for them, I even remember one man who wanted to be in the home rather than with his daughter. It still seems like such a sad ending for people who were once vibrant and alive and active participants in life.

    • You’ve summed it up perfectly. People almost always end up in these “homes” as a last resort, not because it’s what they or their families wanted. And that’s a painful reality to face every single day.

  20. I have had these same thoughts so many times. Those places (even the nice ones) scare the bejesus out of me. That age scares the bejesus out of me. Truthfully, is it better to die before you get there? It’s great when you see 96 year olds who still function day-to-day perfectly fine. They power walk, grocery shop, and manage their household like a 40 year old. But eventually, (if you don’t live with someone) you’re going to end up in an assisted living facility. Most of your mind is gone. And you’re waiting to die. It’s so damn scary I can’t let my brain linger there for long……

    • Yep. I’m with you, SW. It’s not aging that scares me, and it isn’t death. It’s that part near the end, right between those two, that makes me shudder. Here’s an idea… let’s start an assisted living joint for aging women writers. Even if we got bitter, we could turn it into some stellar prose.

  21. This is so difficult. My Grandmother is living in a retirement home but it’s this unbelievably luxurious sort of place that costs thousands per month and it STILL sort of gives me the heebie jeebies. I hate to think of what someone without a bankroll or family support would end up with at the end of their life. Seeing the car that is sometimes provided at the hospital… also frightens me. I’m not sure where I fall in the debate… I think there’s a part of me that wants to hold onto some ideal and dream that we could live in a society that takes care of each other but sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case.

  22. I am glad that your father will be out of there. It is so depressing. I remember taking my son who was 12 to visit his grandfather at a rehab facility and an elderly woman grabbed my son’s wrist and desperately begged him to get her out of there! My son was quite traumatized. There’s got to be a better alternative 🙂

    • Oh, no. Your poor son. I’m a grown woman and I still get nervous just walking in the door. I don’t know exactly what the alternative is, but I’m with you that this can’t be the best we can do.

    • Laura! Thank you so much for this! It gives me an incredible amount of hope. I love the quote they chose for their website:

      “But the special quality of this city for the man who arrives there on a summer evening […] is that he feels envy toward those who now believe they have lived an evening identical to this and who think they were happy, that time.”

      The piece said this concept is probably coming to the US soon… so my next wish is that care like this is eventually an option for all people across economic levels (even as I know how unlikely that is).

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