As an occasionally obsessive hiker navigating the meandering trail of my existence, I'm constantly rediscovering it's a metaphor for everything — from life in general to long-term care.
"My first job going into this particular field was an administrator-in-training, where I would come in and work in a nursing home."
It was just meaningless workplace chatter, signifying nothing.
"In the next decade it does not appear that a cure for Alzheimer's disease will be found."
"Dining services. It's a big component that residents focus on. It would be fun to cook in the kitchen and talk to the seniors in the dining room and see their reactions."
From now on when I ponder the future of long-term care, I'll think about Uncle Jimmy.
"It's using technology to allow residents to live independently. The future of aging allows us to look for more opportunities for seniors to age in place, and to maintain independence and dignity."
Hard as it seems to believe after 17 years of vocationally wedded bliss, there was a time when long-term care and I weren't together. It's sobering to consider.
"I think the thing I would like folks to know is there's always a battle to get rid of the stereotypes. The people I work with are very intent on putting their heart and care into what they do. People need to come and see that."
So, how should I react to what that back-stabbing little blankety-blank (fake name redacted for HIPAA compliance) said or did to me?
"I tell every new associate, whether they're changing linens, washing dishes, providing nursing care or working in one of our leadership positions: You are an advocate and a professional. Represent yourself, our community and senior living with pride."
Like many respectable professions, long-term care has plenty of highly competitive, aggressive people. Brave scientists who sedate, tag and study them in the wild have labeled them Type A personalities.
"I no longer get old. I work with people 80, 90, 100 years old that are young at heart. It teaches you that you can have a vibrant and young perspective no matter what your age."
It's suddenly 2016, and I'm uneasy. Perhaps you know that vague apprehension. Like maybe you left your newly stocked phosphorescent med cart unlocked in the parking lot overnight, or ran off to work with the hot iron resting face down on a pile of tinder-dry copies of McKnight's.
"Exactly what I'm wearing now [a tie, dress shirt, black pants]. I wear this every day except Friday, which is casual."
Have you ever had some well-meaning someone give you a gift that turns out to be more like a job?
"Probably go out with my patients for a simple thing like eating outside or going to a restaurant they like. We try to give them all these choices. They might want a special breakfast, but we have 275 patients, and if we give everyone their own breakfast, nobody would get it on time. I'd probably take one or two at a time if they wanted to go out. That's what I'd want."
They were seniors, so I suppose they were used to being invisible. They were also veterans — a double-whammy. Add in the fact that most were from long-term care settings, and you have the perfect storm. These 13 relics of World War II, Korea and Vietnam were almost asking to be ignored.
"One of my most favorite projects to work on when I'm not at work creating extraordinary experiences for our elders is gardening. I have perennials around my entire home and garage as well as two corner gardens that I spend numerous hours from spring until snow flies tending to."
For long-term care providers who usually only check the sky to see if it's falling, the recent harvest supermoon lunar eclipse brought the chance for a fresh perspective.
McKnight's readers sound off on what"hidden talent they value most.
It's long-term care convention season again. You can feel it in the air. Strange, troublesome urges start to take over.
Answers compiled during the Long-Term and Post-Acute Care (LTPAC) Health IT Summit in Baltimore.
Here's my naïve and rather radical gardening philosophy — it should be an act of joy, not stress or fear. But another striving human I know, along with a few people I've met in long-term care, seems to have a hard time embracing that viewpoint.
Adversity, that irrepressible rascal. We're far too familiar with it in long-term care.
In both life and long-term care, we tend to distrust the simple solutions.
I love technology. I'm using some right now. It's technology, after all, that translates brain waves and finger twitches and makes it possible for me to tell you how much I love technology. Though my advancing age makes our relationship adversarial at times, I'm definitely a fan.
We don't have crickets in long-term care, but we should. They're very soothing insects. Experts on Crickipedia maintain that they actually emit four different sounds — a calling song, an aggressive song, a courting song and a copulatory song. Most human communication fits into those categories as well.
Whenever I pass one of those cinderblock mini-storage places with double-loaded rows of strictly functional corridors, I think the same thing: "That looks like some nursing homes I've been in."
Is it just a coincidence that on the day after the most heartbreaking defeat ever in Seattle sports, following the worst coaching decision in recorded football history, not just the Super Bowl, I choose to write about alcohol? Probably not.
With all the issues you face in long-term care, it doesn't surprise me you've never given a moment's thought to one of the great travesties of modern civilization — that there's way too much crème brulee in this world, and not nearly enough panna cotta.
The single most important precipitant for placement of Parkinson's disease patients in a long-term care facility is psychiatric dysfunction, particularly psychosis.
In an attempt to learn if I'm allergic to gluten, nuts or dairy, I might have also simultaneously stumbled onto a strategy for solving all problems in life and long-term care management.
I have theories about things. It's a perfectly risk-free pastime, since I never have to prove any of them. It's just my opinion, after all, based on a rumination, which grew out of a random thought, which began as a mere zygote of a formless hunch.
You Mystery Shoppers have spoken: Assisted living communities do a bad job making a good first impression. If true, it's definitely a problem, and I'd thank you for sharing if I knew your real names.
If you're looking for an inspirational nugget to share at stand-up tomorrow morning, I might just have something for you.
Gardening is magic. Gardening is mindfulness. Gardening is therapist, physician and personal trainer without spandex or a copay. And now researchers have confirmed that gardening can help nursing home patients suffering with dementia.
In the evidence-based healthcare world, you need to become a real Sherlock (or Shirley) Holmes to take your clues (data) and put them together logically (analyze the data) to make analytics-based decisions to solve your facility's most challenging mysteries.
I'm obsessed by mountains, particularly the ones I'm staring at right now in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. Marvelous, epic monoliths of rock and ice, they dominate and intimidate. "Look up here, you tiny, transient human writing your little long-term care articles," they're taunting. "We've been here forever. You want a piece of us?"
Research shows cynical people die younger and are three times more likely to get dementia? Yeah, right. I'd like to see who paid for that study. And I just read on the Internet that evil corporations representing big-cynicism interests are conspiring to kill innovations in positive attitude in order to keep distrust and pessimism thriving. So change is hopeless. Why bother trying?
That new CNA ran over your foot with the med cart. Someone else is getting the promotion you expected. A resident's family member said horrible things about you. A coworker stole your shift — and your husband.
Just so you know, I've been pulling two, 12-hour shifts of living per day for the past 53 years, and I'm exhausted. I work when I sleep and I sleep when I work, which means I don't do either one very well. I've even talked to my supervisor about this, to no avail. He's an unreasonable ogre named Gary Tetz, and all he cares about is himself.
Sometimes in business — and particularly in the long-term care business — it can be useful to see things from a fresh, unexpected perspective.
On a scale of A to 17, with one being "Always" and red being "Parsnips," how would you rate your experience with customer satisfaction surveys? I'm sure most of you use them, though I haven't done a survey to back that up.
It was a simple question, one I've asked before in moments of extreme desperation. But this time, the answer went beyond merely helpful.
We're pretty full of ourselves. I'm talking about the collective "us," a nation of smug egocentrics, not about you and me.
I experienced many crushing disappointments growing up. A trespassing fairy with a tooth fetish didn't leave a dime under my pillow? Ernie and Bert aren't brothers? Affordable healthcare isn't a right? But the worst was realizing I was too old to be a prodigy. There's an age limit, apparently, or maybe it's height or weight. Regardless, I didn't qualify.
It wasn't expected. He just up and died. One day he was happily walking the Earth with the rest of us, the next he was gone. I barely knew him and don't know the back-story, just that it happened at home, where he lived alone, and that he left an accordion. I know that because it's mine now.
If you're weary of pursuing constant improvement and innovation in long-term care, take inspiration from Burger King.
My initial plan was to get up early to write this column. Refreshed and invigorated by a good night's sleep, I would leap out of bed with synapses alert and firing, and my inspired mind would cut through the task at hand like a freshly sharpened chain saw. And this time I would do it alone. Without coffee. Just to prove I could.