Opinion

Cynicism is contagious

Cynicism is contagious

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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?

Forgiveness — do it

Forgiveness — do it

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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.

Of tired mice and men

Of tired mice and men

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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.

A miracle of reflection

A miracle of reflection

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Sometimes in business — and particularly in the long-term care business — it can be useful to see things from a fresh, unexpected perspective.

Shock 'em with action

Shock 'em with action

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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.

A pause for civility

A pause for civility

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It was a simple question, one I've asked before in moments of extreme desperation. But this time, the answer went beyond merely helpful.

The selfie generation

The selfie generation

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We're pretty full of ourselves. I'm talking about the collective "us," a nation of smug egocentrics, not about you and me.

Prodigies in reverse

Prodigies in reverse

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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.

Playing it forward

Playing it forward

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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.

Meds in a cupcake

Meds in a cupcake

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If you're weary of pursuing constant improvement and innovation in long-term care, take inspiration from Burger King.

Sleepy? Have a waffle

Sleepy? Have a waffle

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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.

Nomophobia threat

Nomophobia threat

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They say confession is good for the soul, so here goes. I'm having an affair — with my smartphone. What started with a few innocent conversations and some harmless texting quickly became an obsession, and the two of us now sleep together every night. I finally admitted this to my wife, but she says she already knew.

Invisible heroes seen

Invisible heroes seen

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I've written a lot about ageism. About how people don't value the contributions of seniors. About how long-term care residents are invisible and forgotten. About kids these days, and why they don't respect their elders. As raving tangents go, I'm generally not bullish on the prospects for societal culture change. But after recently traveling to Washington, D.C., with 10 World War II veterans and their 14 caregivers, I might have to reconsider.

When it matters most

When it matters most

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Pondering difficult end-of-life situations made me think, naturally, of Chevy Chase.

A not-so-joyful noise

A not-so-joyful noise

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I'm sure you remember the old joke: "Why are nursing homes so noisy? Because we forget people actually live there." Oh sorry, that's not a joke. My mistake.

Re-invent communities

Re-invent communities

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Every product or community goes through a life cycle that includes these stages: Development, Growth, Maturity, Saturation and Death. At Maturity, a product/community begins to become irrelevant, outdated and no longer competitive due to changing consumer demands.

Half a dose of reality

Half a dose of reality

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We insomniacs know sleep is important. We've read all the studies, usually late at night when we can't sleep. We're very aware that insomnia is shortening our lives, and that our knowledge of that fact is worsening our insomnia.

Compliance clock ticks

Compliance clock ticks

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Nursing facilities have always faced an array of obligations in order to provide services to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, which can sometimes seem burdensome in comparison with other providers. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as the healthcare reform law, is yet another example of how nursing facilities remain a target - the notable new obligation is the mandatory compliance program requirement. Adoption and implementation of compliance programs has previously been voluntary, although encouraged.

Difficult eaters ahead

Difficult eaters ahead

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Food. I eat it, savor it, crave it and can't seem to live without it — and I suspect I'm not alone. Talk to any long-term care resident, and he or she will almost certainly list it as one of the most important factors in his or her dissatisfaction, right behind the low quality of the coffee and the bad attitude of that new aide who hands out meds like the recipients have leprosy.

The trouble with bullies

The trouble with bullies

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The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on the unpleasant subject of workplace harassment. At issue is whether an employer is responsible when the bully is not strictly a boss.

Things I think: My (new) job interview

Things I think: My (new) job interview

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A long-term care administrator I know had a little surprise for a prospective employee during a recent job interview. When the candidate began rhapsodizing about all the valuable time she'd accrued in the profession, he looked over his glasses and asked, "So, do you really have five years of experience, or just one year five times?"

A hard-earned lesson

A hard-earned lesson

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It is often said that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, but that is not totally true. You can teach an old dog new tricks; it's just difficult. In the case of this old dog, it took a near-death experience.

Things I think: Windmills of change

Things I think: Windmills of change

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I've driven up and down Oregon's Columbia River Gorge roughly 486 times, give or take a thousand, for the past three decades.

Things I think: Sunshine's dream

Things I think: Sunshine's dream

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Margaret was just one of those people. She always wore a smile and a bright yellow sweater, and staff and residents at her assisted living community called her "Sunshine."

Stress mismanagement

Stress mismanagement

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I should have known right then that too much job-related stress was finally getting to me.

Lose the bad attitude

Lose the bad attitude

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If blatant displays of disinterested hostility were an Olympic event, I know a nurse who would have taken the gold — and maybe the silver and bronze as well.

 Don't be shy: step out

Don't be shy: step out

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Shy people hate crosswalks. I know, because I'm a shy person — and I hate crosswalks.

Having my say: Medicaid needs help

Having my say: Medicaid needs help

Howard Gleckman, Urban Institute senior researcher

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