OUR VIEW: Elder care needs ongoing attention

By Daily News • Last Updated 11:27 pm on Friday, December 16, 2011

One of America’s fastest growing industries is that of nursing homes and all forms of elder care.

We’ve reached the dawn of the twilight years for the baby boomer generation, the children conceived and born immediately after World War II. They have reached their retirement years, and their numbers will soon be adding to nursing home populations. They’ll be joining an already burgeoning previous generation of folks in their invasion of senior living facilities.

In a more perfect world, the dramatic increase in numbers of people entering the retirement community and nursing home stage of life would be a simple chore for America’s economy to absorb. Unfortunately, the current global retrenchment brings a financial challenge not only for the people in need of safe and reliable residences, but also for the institutions charged to provide secure living conditions for their tenants.

In spite of the excellent facilities in our state available to the elderly these days, there are frightening statistics that show serious lapses in the care of our seniors. These reports cite numerous cases where the safety of residents has been either compromised or simply lacking altogether. Inevitably, financial considerations play a large role in every institution’s ability to deliver quality service.

But if we are to be concerned family guardians, we cannot depend only on state regulators or media reporting to make us aware of nursing homes and retirement communities that are failing in their obligations to their residents. The ultimate responsibility for the safety of a loved one sticks with us. We must be their advocate.
We cannot simply assign them to someone else.

The people who are among the most vulnerable souls in our society deserve a caregiving residence that can reasonably provide all the attention and assistance they require. The family or a loving surrogate must perform due diligence in deciding what’s best for their loved ones, and to search out a proper fit.

There are plenty of questions to be asked. A review of the institution’s citation history and inspection records would be a start. The number of qualified staff available to serve 24/7 is important. A friendly, engaging staff is a big plus. Facility security, in the rooms, in the halls and at outside doors is critical. That’s just the beginning of the investigation necessary to assure the safety and comfort of a loved one.

Only from your own feelings, after having immersed yourself in the surroundings your loved one will experience, can you arrive at a reasonably accurate decision. After that, you must continue to observe and evaluate in order to assure the best possible treatment of someone important to you.

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