My mother spent two-and-a-half years in a nursing home. She had me to visit every day and bring her new stacks of large print books, that she spent all day, every day, reading. Without that stimulation, I'm very afraid she would have sunk into the torpor and despair I saw overcoming most other residents.
There are so many problems with nursing homes, but the overwhelming one I saw was that well over half of the residents--I'd guess seventy to eighty percent of them--had dementia. Those still mobile were in locked wards, but once they were in a wheelchair, they were down in the regular wings.
This presence of huge numbers of patients with dementia exerts incredible influence on the care of everyone. Underpaid, poorly trained aides tend to treat all residents as if they were not mentally acute. There is little effort made to provide books. The administration left the air conditioning on well into the fall so they could be comfortable in their suits. Meanwhile, the residents were freezing at night. I had my mother dressed as if she were camping in Maine. But so many of the residents have not the capacity to understand or complain.
I don't know the answer. I just know I am doing everything I can to ensure no one of my family ever has to suffer through that experience again.