Baby boomers are claimed to be those born between 1945 and 1965, the era of an increased birth rate following the cessation of World War II hostilities, and a world-wide increase in living standards. The mid-60s and beyond has seen a number of other eras come and go, with the adoption of vastly more advanced technology and quite different prevailing social trends.
Accepting this twenty-year era was a unique blip on the historical curve, as many of us who are part of it do, and that we ourselves are something special as a consequence, has been and continues to be a huge issue for civilised society. One of the key aspects of the far-reaching social influence this cohort continues to have, is the looming need for an ever-increasing number of nursing home beds to house those of us who need, or will eventually need, closer care and looking after.
Visiting a couple of nursing homes soon shows that the age of residents is, on average, probably a good ten years beyond the oldest of baby boomers, which means around the seventy mark, yet there are exceptions. So, whilst most residents are over eighty, some are still in their seventies, usually there because of mobility problems beyond their age.
Judging from press reports, the quality of nursing homes can vary greatly, so a great deal of care needs to be taken in making a choice, although unfortunately price seems to some extent at least to be a determining factor with regard to quality. If physical care is adequate, and the food is sufficiently palatable – both very important factors – the next most important consideration is that residents are kept active, with a continuous range of interesting activities available for them to choose from, at least every weekday.
For any kind of quality of life, it’s essential our minds and bodies are kept in regular use. Advancing age unavoidably slows us down physically, but it need not mentally, so whilst it’s common to see residents getting about with the aid of walking frames, this doesn’t mean their minds have slowed down to an equivalent pace.
If we are to spend our final years in a nursing home of some kind, we want to make sure it can dish up to us plenty of interesting activities and outings, to keep us fully mentally active, and as physically active as our bodies will allow. And this is what the better nursing homes do, with full-time staff on hand to ensure each week is chock-a-block full of things the average person likes to do. Of course this needn’t stop anyone pursuing any other interest they may have, whatever it might be. The only consideration is that, living at quite close quarters, no activity should be undertaken that will annoy or bother fellow residents.
Presuming the level of care is adequate and the food is good, the biggest risk for nursing home residents can be boredom, which over time can lead to an increasingly passive nature and ultimately lack of interest in life all together. Naturally family, particularly children, have a critical role to play in this regard, but as adults, and still with all their mental faculties, residents must make an effort to keep occupied, in a way that can relatively accurately be described as gainfully.
In fact this is probably the biggest challenge facing residents when they first embark on this stage of their lives, removed from their familiar surroundings and stimuli. They need to keep up all their usual activities as much as they are physically able to, such as pursuing hobbies and interests, and remaining socially active.
The nursing home should be viewed as a warm (literally and figuratively), supportive and sustaining environment, where they can get on with their lives, as much as possible doing what they’re comfortable with and used to, with added confidence now they no longer need to cook, clean, wash, tend the garden and do everything themselves to keep their lives moving along.
Viewed positively, rather than being considered the final move and recognition of arrival at advanced old age, entry into a nursing home can validly be treated as a liberating step, the casting aside of most of the restricting chores of everyday life, with valuable time freed up to get on and immerse yourself in more of what you really want to do.
Such a positive attitude can be aided and enhanced by a full and interesting program of events held each week, both on-site and externally. This is what prospective nursing home residents should be looking for when considering which home to enter, so their lives can continue as seamlessly as possible, and in fact receive a mental and psychological boost from a varied and interesting range of activities every weekday.