Let’s Put the Elderly in Jail and Criminals in Nursing Homes

One of my readers sent me this. (thanks Jim!)  Let’s Put the Elderly in Jail and Criminals in Nursing Homes by Mike Gamble on Our Aging Parents website. It’s humor, but with a sad amount of truth.

To copy from the website….

The elderly would have access to showers, hobbies and walks. They’d receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheelchairs, etc. And, they’d receive money instead of paying it out.
They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly if they fell or needed assistance.

Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be washed, ironed and returned to them.

A guard would check on them every 20 minutes, and bring their meals and snacks to their cell.

They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose. They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counseling, pool and education.

Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJs and legal aid would be free, on request. The elderly would all have private, secure rooms, and an outdoor exercise yard with gardens.

Every elderly person could have a computer, a TV, radio, and daily phone calls. A board of directors would hear complaints, and guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to.

Criminals would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised. Lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week. They would live in a tiny room, pay $5,000 a month, and have no hope of ever getting out.

Justice for all.

I’m sure jail is no picnic, but I have heard stories about people getting themselves arrested because they needed medical care, or didn’t want to spend winter on the streets hungry and cold.

I’ve also heard about elderly living on cruise ships. It’s a lot more fun and about the same cost as a facility if you are independent enough to manage in that environment.

Nursing homes are definitely no picnic, especially if you don’t have money. I’ve done some agency work where I was sent to nursing homes. You run your feet off all shift but rarely have time for a personal touch, a human connection. If everyone is clean, dry, fed, had meds and treatments, and no one ended up on the floor it’s been a great shift. And these were decent nursing homes, not slums. If you want more attention than that, it’s available but you will pay.

Check out this book
Being Mortal  Medicine and What Matters in the End
By: Atul Gawande

The book talks about quality of life, especially at the end of life. We don’t have to warehouse our elderly and wait for them to die with no joy of living, no reason to get up every day. We don’t have to send grandma to ICU for her last days.

I had to have the hard talks with every one of my home health patients because it’s required, and because it’s the right things to do. Not all, of course, were facing death but you never know what tomorrow will bring and it’s important that you plan for the “what if”.

Read the book. Really. I think it should be required reading for everyone.

Ok, enough doom and gloom for now. People sometimes comment that Buddhists think about death all the time. Yes, but in knowing you aren’t promised one more day, one more moment, you appreciate how precious life is and live every day to the fullest.


About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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3 Responses to Let’s Put the Elderly in Jail and Criminals in Nursing Homes

  1. Craig McCracken says:

    Hi Kris, as always enjoy your posts. I was fortunate enough to have my parents live with me until very close to the end. That is one of the things that I like in Latin countries family takes care of family where as we tend to think the state should do it now. I know it is not easy, but the way I look at it is: I was not easy or convenient for my parents to look after either ( more of a problem in my teenage years) but they did everything they could for me and I will always appreciate it.


    • Hi and thanks for your comment. It seems distance is often a factor in the US. Parents don’t want to leave their home (and be a burden) but the kids have found jobs elsewhere. Sometimes families don’t get along. Or, the burden of care can fall on one family member who is also working and maybe has other responsibilities as well, and they crack under the strain. In Panama since people don’t move as much, care can usually be shared among multiple family members. Earlier retirement ages can also help so caregivers aren’t trying to work and be caregivers at the same time.


  2. Pingback: Let’s Put the Elderly in Jail and Criminals in Nursing Homes — The Panama Adventure – Suman Das Blog

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