What Do Nursing Homes Do (That Hotels Don’t)

You may have seen an email, social media post,
or cartoon that tells you how crazy you’d be to go to a nursing home. Hotels
are cheaper and they have swimming pools, etc. “Why go to a nursing home when
you can retire to a hotel?”

The article invariably points out the differences
in cost and quality of life. It’s fun to compare them, and it makes us feel
better about getting older. “Sure,” you think to yourself, “when I get older,
I’ll just check into a hotel, like the cool kids.” Before you turn in your
house key for a hotel card, consider these points:

Getting Extremely Personal

At a nursing home,
the staff will get to know you. They will know your name, your medical history,
your plan of care, your next of kin, your
food allergies, and why Annette was your favorite Mouseketeer.

Assistance Is an Arm Away

If you need help
getting from the bed to the toilet, someone will come help you. Probably
nicely. They will help you bathe, dress,
walk, go from the bed to the chair and back again, all while helping you
remember the name of that one actress who was in that movie with the dog. Not
that one, the other one.

Personal Care

If you have an
accident, they will clean you up. Seriously, that’s a big deal. They will check
on you repeatedly if you are ill and will
call your family members with updates.

Medication Schedule

They know your
medications. They know what you have already taken, and what you haven’t yet.
They know the difference between vyzulta
and xalatan. (Who names these drugs? Is it a cat on a keyboard?)

But perhaps the most important quality of a
nursing home is this:

They Will Not Ask You to Leave

You will not be asked to check out because:

  • You fell (again).
  • You wandered into
    another person’s room and changed the TV channel because there is so much
    yelling on that show and it’s upsetting to you.
  • You gave your
    candy away and then claimed someone stole it.
  • You wouldn’t stop
    complaining about President Ford and the farm bill of 1975.
  • You snapped at
    the aide who kept you from drinking the “apple juice” you found in the specimen
    cup on the counter.

Hotels are great, though, don’t get me wrong. If
you really want to retire to a hotel rather than a nursing home, here are
several things you can do that will make a huge difference:

Do Strength Training

Do as much strength training as you can, as
often as you can. A person cannot become too strong. Let me share something
with you – it might not feel good to train, but it feels good to be strong. There
isn’t a pickle jar at the store that I cannot open. As a side note, don’t try
this unless you really like pickles.

Do Mental Training

Do things that are mentally challenging, like
playing chess, learning a musical instrument, or remembering where you parked
your car at the mall.

Work on Your Social Skills

Do stuff you care
about with people you care about. Now
is the time to go out and connect with people. Find your tribe and let your enthusiasm
take you on an adventure. Your new best friends are out there, waiting for you!

Make Healthy Choices

Living in good health is much more about avoiding
disease than it is about surviving disease.

Healthy Choices

To live healthy:

  • Avoid tobacco.
  • Wear your
  • Keep your weight optimal.
  • Get a good night
    sleep every night.
  • Drink lots of
    water, eat healthy foods.
  • Go to the doctor
    and get your immunizations.

Unhealthy Choices

Well, consider unhealthy all the stuff your
mother told you not to do.

Most of us will need skilled nursing care at
some point in our life. If you do end up spending time in a nursing home, keep
in mind one last piece of advice:

Be nice to your long term care nurses – they’re the ones choosing the size of your

What do you think are the pros of nursing
homes compared to hotels? Where do you think you’d feel best taken care for?
Please share your thoughts with our community!