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The Missing Amenity

These retirement places have all sorts of amenities. They have a Dr.'s office for immediate needs otherwise the residents go off campus to their private Dr.s. They have a bank for immediate needs otherwise they refer to their accountants and financial managers. They have a hair salon that also does nails otherwise they can go off campus to their favorite hair attendant. They have a Wellness center that sends aids to administer pills and check on residents who are ill or incapacitated. They have a little grocery store that charges waaay too much for everything but is at least handy for last minute pick ups. They have a mail room, a room for bridge, a room for arranging flowers and a room for storing plants. This facility has a wood working room. My daughter would love that. She won the shop prize at her 8th grade graduation. They have an exercise room used mostly it seems for therapy rather than regular exercise. Of course they have a dining room, 3 to be exact. They offer a lot of amenities except one, the mental health clinic. By the time my group gets there they are going to have to have a full scale mental health operation complete with psychiatrists, counselors and a multitude of therapists leading group sessions and private consultation etc. We are going to require licensed therapists to handle all of the depression and worries and other issues that goes on in old age. My generation is very used to having therapy appointments. We like seeing psychiatrists and therapists... well at least we're used to it and expect the services to be available. They are going to have to offer regular AA meetings and family counseling sessions etc. There are a lot of family issues surrounding a stay in one of these places.  No stigma for us. We've gotten used to the self indulgence, we require it. How could they have missed this one "most" important amenity? The amenity that keeps us balanced, the amenity that calms our nerves without medication. The natural pain killer - conversation with conclusion. I suppose, to a certain degree, for these elderly types there has been a stigma attached to therapy. Psychiatrists? They are for crazy weak people, not me. I can buck up and walk forward. Well the time is coming for these retirement villages to offer the full monty.Last week the LOL (little old lady) I take care of was on a downward spiral with no end in sight. She became paranoid that she had nothing to live for and most importantly that age old question "when am I going to die?" She wanted me to call her Dr. immediately and ask him when she was going to do die. Was it going to be this afternoon, tomorrow, next week. When is it going to happen? She got her self all worked up because she didn't want to wait around any longer. She wanted to know when it was going to happen. The waiting and not knowing was killing her.Well I did the best I could to talk to her. It was hard to muster up the strength to have a meaningful conversation since I really was out of my league here. I did try though. She called her son and left a long message about her worries... he never listened to it. Then she called another son who lives 10 hours away and voiced her end of life quandary to him. He then called his brother who jumped in the car and drove the hour to see her. He spent the next 3 hours talking with her and calming her down. It was really nice of him to come up so quickly but of course now he was feeling guilty that it had been so long since he'd been there to see her.When am I going to die? Old people ask themselves that question all the time, at least the older ones who are bored and do nothing all day, you know the ones who just eat and poop. It's a terrible anxiety to live with. Is it going to be now or 5 minutes from now, tomorrow or next week. When is it going to happen? Joan Rivers died during a routine medical operation, who knew? Boom, she was gone. Went in healthy, strong with a full calendar the next day and Boom she was gone. No diminishing, no pondering, no awareness that the end was around the corner. That's the way to go in my opinion. People die all the time without notice and leave the survivors to suffer through their extreme departure, not them. And this is why we have therapists... to help us get through these tough times.

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Mental health is the silent tool. I honestly and firmly believe that all caregivers should be given a mental health check up regularly. How often? I don't know but it should be required. Doctors, psyc

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