Tips for Seniors: How to Avoid Incarceration in a Nursing Home
Like most able-bodied, independent seniors, I’m surrounded by loving and supportive family members who are chomping at the bit to strip me of my dignity and lock me away in the most Draconian nursing home money can buy.
It may be because they’re worried about accidental falls, could be an issue of deteriorating health or it might just be payback for not buying them a damned pony when they were eight – but whatever the reason, young people today are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to lock us oldsters away and we need to be on guard.
In an effort to help my senior brethren, I’m providing the following 5 simple strategies to deter your children from pulling the family rug out from under you, rolling your body up in it and then dropping it off in the lobby of the nearest Super 8 Seniors Lodge.
1. Don’t Buy the Propaganda
Your kids are likely to begin their campaign by presenting you with all manner of glossy brochures filled with pictures of happy seniors potting geraniums, eating pudding and breathing independently. Don’t buy it for a damned moment!
Despite the slick packaging and promises of active living these homes are nothing but second rate hell holes staffed with disgruntled nursing-school dropouts and misfits deemed too dangerous to even work with farm animals.
They’re havens for abuse, neglect and cruel disregard for the dignity of old folks. In fact, the only difference between a nursing home and prison is that in a nursing home you don’t get an orange jumpsuit, won’t be asked to join a gang and have a marginally slimmer chance of being sexually violated.
Don’t believe the brochures! Don’t read them, don’t look at them and don’t allow them into your home.
2. Never Sign Anything!
If subtle nudging doesn’t work you can expect your children to start stuffing legal papers under your nose and expressing an interest in helping to manage your affairs in the “unfortunate event” that you become incapacitated and unable to do so on your own.
I call it a familial phishing scam. They lure you in with promises of financial security in exchange for access to your personal information but as soon as you hand it over the gloves come off and they strip you clean, pick you dry and move on to the next gullible relative with white hair, a plump bank account and a trusting nature.
Bear in mind that the average length of time between signing a power of attorney form and finding your ass strapped to a gurney and shipped to the Nurse Ratched Home for the Aged is about 12 damned minutes.
If you absolutely feel you need to sign legal papers consider getting a restraining order instead – your ungrateful clan can’t act against you if they aren’t allowed within 200 feet of your home.
3. Never Complain About Your Health
Telling your family you’ve had a dizzy spell or a bout of impetigo is nothing more than an open invitation to a court-ordered incarceration. Complain about communists, complain about the weather, complain about the quality of Marmaduke cartoons but wherever possible keep your hip replacement surgery or triple bypass a closely guarded secret. They can smell weakness.
If you absolutely need to get to hospital take public transit under cover of darkness and in some manner of disguise. The number one reason that so many seniors spend three days lying injured on the basement floor isn’t because they couldn’t reach the phone, it’s because they were smart enough to know that calling their daughter for assistance was a one way ticket to God’s waiting room.
4. Never Let Them Know Your Net Worth
Like most seniors, I’ve stashed away almost every penny I’ve ever earned and could buy and sell my children if I was so inclined (or if the law would allow it). But I’m careful not to spread that piece of information around.
If your children think you have money they’ll either want to lock you up so they can get their filthy paws on it, or out of fear that you might spend it yourself. Either way – it’s best to keep up the pretence of comfortable impoverishment.
Don’t be flashing cash or boasting about the quarter million you have stuffed in your Sealy Posturepedic. Keep your diet, attire and mode of transportation understated. Nothing drives a young person battier than seeing their old parents buying expensive marmalade, brand name dentures or generally attempting to enjoy the money they worked 60 years to save.
5. Get The Dirt on Them
Chances are that at some point most members of your extended family have considered you ineffectual and useless enough to speak freely about their problems in your presence. They’ll just have assumed you’ve forgotten or are too brain-addled to understand and make use of the information.
It’s a last ditch effort and fraught with risk but if you have knowledge that your daughter-in-law is a promiscuous hussy who’s seen more rubber than an interstate freeway, blackmail may be your get out of jail free card when the gaggle of relatives gather to plan where to stash your remains.
While there are no guarantees to your ongoing independence, I hope these tips may help. Remember, stay vigilant, stay strong and above all else, stay free for as long as you damned well can.