Gary Tetz

Here’s an innovative new way, and maybe the only one you haven’t already tried, to make sure more people visit your lonely nursing home residents. Sentence them to do it.

Italy is leading the way in this approach. I know, I know, it’s dangerous to emulate Europe in anything, what with their socialized medicine and crumbling ruins and leaning towers and all. But seriously, I think they might be onto something.

An Italian court has found former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi guilty of tax fraud, and sentenced him to serve one year of community service at a nursing home outside Milan. No word on what he’ll be doing exactly, but he’ll be there at least four hours once a week,

Four hours a week! That’s more than many family members in America are willing to commit to doing. And even if someone does actually stop by a long-term care facility occasionally, they tend to treat the visit like it’s a prison sentence. So I just think we might as well formalize the process.

I’m not sure how the program would work, or which felons we should target. Sentencing traffic violators to nursing home visitation would make some sense, though those people already have a problem rushing through things. Drug offenders are just going to use the opportunity to case the med carts. And we wouldn’t want to focus on those convicted of sex crimes when we already have a long-term care stripper problem.

So I say we restrict this to the many lawmakers trapped in scandal or under indictment. This would be the perfect opportunity for them to see what really happens with the federal money they’re always threatening to cut. It’s unfortunate that the residents would have to suffer by being forced to interact with shady politicians, but just tell them it’s for a good cause.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, who cobbles these pieces together from his secret lair somewhere near the scenic, wine-soaked hamlet of Walla Walla, WA. Since his debut with at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.