Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Patrick Flynn and Ronald Tipton, 2016.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Monday, June 18, 2012

Between the Black and the Red

Several months back I decided to visit a "Home". My wife and I are in good health and shape, but time goes faster when you reach your seventies and eighty isn't so far down the road. At this age a decade can bring a lot of changes.

I knew we couldn't stay here in our present home for several reason. One biggie is financial. It was a monthly struggle to meet our costs and still have some quality to our life, and a year ago I had a part time job. I didn't see how we could afford to keep this place up in the future. Not only to pay for repairs and maintenance, but even to do the regular chores one does. I don't try to kid myself into thinking age is only a matter of mind. It is a matter of body as well and I don't have the strength, stamina or energy I had even five years ago. A little of these things slip away with every birthday that passes and another birthday is coming this month. Although I walk in the forest every morning, up and down rocky trails and such, I am having more and more trouble with stairs and steps, especially if carrying something such as laundry. Besides, our house is too big for us anymore. It was great for raising three kids, a bedroom for everyone and plenty of room to play indoors on a rainy day.

And so I took a tour. I went to a place that had some small cottages as well as apartments. My wife preferred the sense of having one's own place.

The tour was lovely. There was a group of us trailing behind a charming guide. We traipsed long halls decorated with beautifully framed paintings and vases of flowers. We visited a couple in their lovely two-bedroom apartment with its modern kitchen. We saw the expansive rehab room, the chapel, the small cafe and the gift shop. We finished up with a delicious meal in the large, elegant dining room beneath its chandeliers. Some of the residents joined us at the tables to brag about life in this place. As desert was being served, the chef and the servers came out to take a bow for the marvelous luncheon.

What a wonderful atmosphere to live out your final years, except if I could afford to live there I wouldn't need it. At that time the entry fee to just get in the door started at $120,000 and then $2,600 a month and that was just for a small 500 square-foot Studio Apartment. The prices went up with every foot of floor space you added and don't even think about those little cottages. Twenty-Six thousand dollars a month? Our Social Security checks added together don't even reach that before Medicare is taken out. By the time we jumped to a two-bedroom apartment, which is the least we would prefer, the monthly fee would have eaten up my pension as well. The two-bedroom apartment is just over 1,000 square feet, but you do get two baths.

Wait, that's not all! Buy now and we throw in one meal a day, you may choose breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Now granted, you don't have to worry about some catastrophic illness laying you low. You end up needing constant care you are covered.

I'm not knocking the place exactly. I still think if you are wealthy enough to afford living there you are wealthy enough not to have to live there. I am a bit annoyed the place was founded and is owned by a Protestant Denomination. When Jesus charged his followers to take care of the widowed, orphaned and aged, I don't think this kind of opulence is what he had in mind.

I was disappointed so many of the more upscale of these places have church affiliations. You know, the rich will find a way. I think Christian organizations should be more concerned with the less-than-rich.

Believe me, my parents are not headed for Chef-prepared meals or 1,000 square foot apartments. Of course where they are headed is several steps up from what they may have faced a hundred or so years ago.

They didn't have Nursing Homes for people like us way back then. You grew old and had no money and your family couldn't take you in it was off to the Poorhouse or Workhouse. Do you not recall Ebenezer Scrooge.


"Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.
"Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
"And the Union workhouses?"  demanded Scrooge.  "Are they still in operation?"
"They are.  Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they were not."
"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?"  said Scrooge.
"Both very busy, sir."

It was from such places the Nursing Homes came about, you know, and through the endeavors of the churches. People of age were sent to the Poorhouse along with the riffraff, petty criminals and debtors.

The churches took umbrage at this deplorable situation and thus was born the Almshouse. Alms is an old word meaning to give necessities to the poor. The various churches began establishing these Almshouse to bring the aged poor out of those public government run Poorhouses.

Very commendable, but not as altruistic or charitable as it sounds. In my opinion the motive was less Christian than pride. The congregations and their leaders of the day thought it deplorable that a Christian should have to rub elbows with guttersnipes, pickpockets and the unsaved (you know, the kind of people Christ rubbed elbows with everyday). Not only did you have to be a Christian of good standing to go to the Almshouse, you had to be a member of its founding denomination.

We have come a long way, baby, from those early beginnings to the modern day Nursing Home. Yet there is still an obvious class distinction of what you will be living in until called up yonder.

When I entered the world of the Nursing Home searching for a place for mom and dad I discovered this reality and the fact when it comes to the offspring of the Almshouse -- we  still have a long way to go.



1 comment:

Ron said...

Lar,

What surprises me is how many people can afford these homes. I can't.

Ron