You're not paranoid if the world is out to get you

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John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
Are long-term care operators overly paranoid? That answer probably depends on your definition of “overly.”

My response is, yes, many operators do seem to be a bit sensitive about many things — but who could blame them?

On the best days, delivering proper long-term care services to our nation's elderly is a daunting task. Most residents are nearing 90 years old. More than half have Alzheimer's disease or some kind of dementia. And residents typically need help with at least four activities of daily living, such as eating, walking, or going to the bathroom. And did I mention that some residents have been known to get a bit feisty and uncooperative at times?

Making matters worse is that many consumers and regulators seem to think of nursing homes as warehouses for the elderly, or worse.

Think I'm making this up? Do a quick Web check. Are nursing home operators generally depicted as lifesavers doing the work that others are unable or unwilling to do, while performing these heroic deeds at bargain-basement prices? Hardly. Judging by the things that are regularly written about facilities, you'd think they are unwelcome squatters poaching tax dollars that should be used elsewhere.

That reality merits the reply an incredulous Col. Nathan Jessup spat out in “A Few Good Men”: “I would rather you just said, ‘Thank you' and went on your way.”

And what kind of  “thank you” do long-term care operators — who take care of more than 1.5 million people a year — have to look forward to? From the looks of things, calls for better care, increased regulations and payment cuts.

Kinda makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn't it?

Reminds me of a quote attributed to Joseph Heller: “Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”

Yes, it may be true that the nation deserves better from nursing homes. But maybe nursing homes also deserve better from the nation.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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