The Truth Behind Assisted Living

Martin Bayne describes the loneliness of watching friends die
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2012 4:15 PM CDT
The Truth Behind Assisted Living
Assisted living: more difficult for residents than most of us realize, writes Martin Bayne.   (Shutterstock)

Life in assisted living facilities is more sad, existential, and draconian than most of us care to realize, writes Martin Bayne in the Washington Post. An eight-year veteran of assisted living, 62-year-old Bayne is wheelchair-bound with young-onset Parkinson’s disease. But the former journalist can write achingly about his experiences: "What I hadn’t calculated was what it’s like to watch a friend—someone you’ve eaten breakfast with every morning for several years—waste away and die. And just as you’re recovering from that friend’s death, another friend begins to waste away."

And try complaining about facility problems, like the typical lack of wheelchair access. “This is NOT your home," one executive roared at him. "You just lease an apartment here like everybody else.” On the bright side, Bayne does praise the heroic, underpaid staff at facilities, and he seeks out tender moments—like his conversation with an 89-year-old grandmother who said in a little-girl's voice that her son had abandoned her there. "It’s okay,” he told her. “You’re among friends now.” Even in the faint moonlight, he writes, "I could see her smile." Click for the full article. (More assisted living stories.)

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