I have settled into a comfortable routine here in Florida. The only interruptions continue to be visits to my family and lecturing on cruise ships. Last May, I took a long auto trip to see my granddaughter graduate from medical school. In addition, I spent almost three months at sea lecturing on eight different cruises for various cruise lines and covering such diverse areas as Western Europe and the Baltic, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean , Mexico, Central America and both coasts of South America. Travel is becoming a bit more trying for me not only because of the post- 9/11 security measures, but also because in two months, I shall be 82. Still, I am not ready to throw in the towel yet.
- John Augelli
At present, I am living here in Gretna, Nebraska, where I moved approximately four years ago, living for about twenty years in assisted living quarters beginning in Brandon Woods, Lawrence, Kansas. I know that many of you will follow to some retirement complex if Bush hasn't spent all your assets fighting the terrorists. Many of you may be interested in what it is like to live in a nursing home and how it appears on the inside instead of the outside.
But, first, as an introductory observance, I want to make some preliminary observations. Life has changed through time and space and this is particularly true in advanced industrial countries. At present, nurseries and assisted living quarters are spread from coast to coast and found in small communities and big cities, but more particularly it originally began with the New Deal and the introduction of social security.
I well remember that as a youngster at the time of the First World War, I knew at least a dozen families who had one room set aside on the first floor for parents or grandparents. All services were supplied by family members which were rather simple in those days because few lived beyond the age of sixty. Now days many live into their eighties and have multiple diseases that call for medical attention. At that time the word Alzheimer's was unknown.
Now let me tell you a little about my "nursery," which is known as the Gretna Community Living Center.
This institution has sixty-one suites, of which forty-five are single occupancy and sixteen double. This discrepancy causes much friction between occupants on all manner of little details. About half of the occupants receive some form of government assistance. Medicaid is supported by states; Medicare by the federal government. Then there are a few occupants that live largely on their own resources and a few who have private insurance.
About a third of the occupants suffer from Alzheimer's or have had strokes and so do not communicate. Twenty-five to fifty need to be fed. Ninety percent transport themselves in wheelchairs or are pushed to the dining room. The remaining few walk with walkers. Only five newspapers are delivered to this place, showing there is little interest in public issues, and at least some of the five people get the paper only for the comics! A good example of life here takes place in the dining room. A retired farmer next to my right tilts his head forward and snoozes immediately after he joins the table. The lady opposite me begins by complaining about the disturbances caused by this farmer, but then begins to snooze herself. My remaining tablemate is so hard of hearing that no conversation is possible. I always take a magazine and read until the food is served. Old age—isn't it wonderful?
- Walter M. Kollmorgen
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