Help for the Elderly

The Oregonian, our local newspaper, has recently drawn attention to the problems the residents of long-term care facilities face. This is my letter to the editor:

Thank you for drawing attention to problems in long-term care (assisted living, nursing homes, etc.). As a volunteer ombudsman for 15 years in Arizona, Florida and Oregon, I have seen the problems. My worst case was a man whose daughter abandoned him after she stole his life savings. We found one check she never cashed, so he took that money and  moved back to his home state under the care of trusted friends. One resident was not allowed to join his friends at the table for lunch because it was too much work to lift him into his wheel chair; now he sits and laughs with them every day.  I saw bugs walk across a resident while she lay in bed. Thankfully, there is a special set of laws called Resident Rights to protect residents of long-term care.

Ombudsmen visit residents and ask if they need assistance. Sometimes the resident has dementia but we take the time to understand. Residents may be afraid to speak up for fear of losing the goodwill of those who care for them; we assure them they are protected. The more volunteer ombudsmen in our long-term care facilities, the safer and happier the residents will be. I encourage everyone to consider volunteering.