Fear-Abandonment when choosing Assisted Living and senior care settings

couple holding hands

Fear/ abandonment when choosing Assisted Living and Senior care settings

Just saw the movie The Impossible about the 2004 Thailand tsunami and thought how seniors might feel after a devestating accident that put them out of a home and forced them to choose an Assisted Living setting.  In the movie the survivors. 230K dead in many countries and all I could think of was the feeling we all get when we are separated, or abandoned, whether due to natural disaster like this or from a more chronic event like aging that forces us to move to a new care setting. The feeling of the people in that event might give us some idea of the feeling each of us will get if we are lucky enough to live to a ripe old age and experience the need to move to a new home at a time when we are physically and cognitively losing the ability to do for ourselves. The people of Thailand and all disaster places feel that hopelessness, not having the stuff you need. Food, water, shelter but also medial care and supplies. They were looking for companionship, being around the ones they loved. The ones who are sick are aware of death but don’t seem to fear it, they work with that, what they fear is abandonment, not saying goodbye, that is unpleasant but understandable, what is harder for humans to do is to not know, not say goodbye  and to feel abandoned, or totally dependent and without out hope or someone to listen.   For example not having anyone to “help”, even get a glass of water or to make sure their family is ok for them. That is just like aging and not having continuity of care.

Care in ER, hospital,  then down stream in many disjointed places is a level below the devastation in the movie but should help us to start to see and feel,  why the choice of a care setting, care team and continuity of care is such a powerful treatment for aging.  We all try to take pills to treat disease – Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and claim they help your Memory.  In fact, choosing the best care team and continuity of care might be another way to go.  People over pills.  I know many talk about how bad the problems of the age wave are or will be and that it is getting worse. That is old news and obvious. You don’t have to tell a person who forced to move out of the independent living apartment part of an Assisted Living Facility and into the Nursing Home that it is not good, they know that. Older people know the arthritis hurts, quantifying it, “studying” it may help somehow but one thing we can do right now, for sure, that is well studied to be effective is value people, and continuity of care.  Not continuity of the chart or continuity of the where the money goes, continuity of the care and people providing that care.


The time is upon us to change the system, value people, value continuity of care, value the care team. Just my thoughts. Hold my hand, a friends, help right here at home, help your family and those around you. When you find continuity of care share that finding with the world. I go back to one of my favorite quotes, if you treat the disease you win or lose but if you treat the person you win NO MATTER WHAT THE OUTCOME. Sick people know about death,  help them to live up until that time God Calls them.  You can’t decide but you can help promote continuity of care.

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By – Dr. Shawn McGivney MD, RFA


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