The Conditions of Nursing Homes vs Prisons

Nursing home employee helping an elderly woman
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It's an outrageous comment on our society that, on the surface, the standard of care for some prisoners could look better than that for the elderly in some nursing homes. 

Nursing Homes Lack a Personal Touch and Are Locked up Tighter Than Prisons

One wonders if, on paper, prisoners receive a better standard of care than the elderly in many nursing homes:

Health Care

They are eligible to receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, and wheelchairs. They receive money instead of paying it out.

Safety and Security

Prisoners have constant video monitoring so they can be helped instantly if they fall or need assistance. A guard checks on them every 20 minutes and brings their meals and snacks to their cells. They have family visits in a suite built for that purpose. Unlike nursing home denizens, prisoners have a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards are supposed to have a code of conduct strictly adhered to.

Personal Care

Prisoners have access to showers, hobbies, and walks. Their bedding is washed twice a week, and all their clothing is ironed and returned to them. Many prisoners today receive basic amenities denied to seniors in nursing homes. Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, pajamas and legal aid are free on request.

Hobbies and Activities

They have access to private, secure rooms available to all, along with an outdoor exercise yard with gardens. They have access to a library, a weight room, spiritual counseling, a pool, and education. Do you think seniors in nursing homes have access to a PC, a TV, radio, and daily phone calls? Think again.

The Poor Treatment in Nursing Homes

But the elderly in many of our nursing homes? They get cold food. They're left all alone and unsupervised with lights off at 8 p.m. They get showers once a week, live in a tiny room, and pay assisted living costs of nearly $5,000 per month. They have no hope of ever getting out.

Don't misunderstand the point of this argument. Many prisoners live in unmitigated hell, one we can't imagine. But it's a brutal comment on our society when it can be stated that some seniors could have their lives improved if they were moved to a state penitentiary. This is an outrage that must be corrected in our society. Those seniors built up our country with their hard labor and tax dollars. They deserve better.

Because, who knows--before we know it, it could be our turn.

-Contributed by Linda Thompson, President, Life Path Solutions, Inc.

Finding Quality Care in Nursing Homes

Of course, many excellent nursing homes provide outstanding care for seniors, but some don't. Just as with anything else in life, if you or a loved one need a living place that provides you with care, you'll want to do your due diligence to make sure you find a location that provides quality elder care. 

If you have long-term care insurance, the insurance company will likely provide a service which can help you locate a quality care facility. If you don't have insurance but need help with basic activities of daily living, perhaps you can hire help on your own. If your income and assets are low, take steps to see if you qualify for Medicaid assistance.

Another option is to locate a continuing care community if you have equity in a home or other assets, which can be an alternative to long-term care insurance. You purchase living space in a community that guarantees to provide you with care should you need it at some point in the future.