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Should Children Be Penalized For Not Visiting Parents Enough In A Long Term Care Community?

I read the attached article, “Adult Children Ignoring Confucius Risk Lawsuits in China,” about the elderly having the option of suing their children if they don’t visit them enough while they are in a long term care community. I used to be the Marketing/Admissions Director of a large Continuing Care Retirement Community where I dealt with admitting seniors who were at the independent, assisted, or nursing home levels of care. The article made me reminisce about acting as, “manager of the weekend,” and some of the experiences I had with family members who were regular visitors. In other words, the families were the polar opposites of the “no shows” referred to in this article.

As manager of the weekend, each staff member at the community had to take a turn at watching over the place. This meant taking care of the needs of the residents, as well as meeting and greeting the family members who came to visit on the weekends. The manager was instructed to walk the hallways to observe cleanliness and anything that seemed out of the ordinary. Another assignment was to circulate in the dining rooms during meal times, ask the residents about the acceptability of the food, and to eat the food to make our own assessment. The best part of acting as the “manager of the weekend” was that I got to see all of the visiting family members that I had previously been involved with during the admissions process. However, I chuckled at the content of this article because some of the families didn’t deserve to be penalized because they didn’t visit enough. They deserved to be scolded for what they did while they were they visiting loved ones, particularly the seniors who were at the independent level. Let me share some of the events with you.

There was a woman who had lived at the community for a number of years and was practically a model resident. She never had a single hair out of place and was always dressed in the latest fashions with a hand bag to match. She had a son who lived in the neighborhood. He visited her each weekend without fail. One time I noticed a large bottle of liquor in her room. Residents at the independent level were allowed to keep liquor. Since independent living is just like an apartment building, there were no rules against it. I was told by another staff member that she kept it to offer her son a cocktail when he visited. The problem was that while I was walking the hallways after the son had left, I found her wandering the hallways half looped on several occasions. I had to escort her to the dining room to make sure that she ate. The same thing happened with another resident whose girlfriend picked him up on Saturdays to take him out for dinner.

Another family had a passion for microwave popcorn and showed up with an abundant supply every weekend. The popcorn party would commence with the popcorn being placed in the microwave at a level that was too high. When it would burn or even catch fire, one of the family members would panic and pull the fire alarm. After several visits from the fire department and a $500 charge for each visit, the family was told they couldn’t bring any more popcorn into the home.
I relay these stories only because the harm they caused is next to nil versus not visiting a senior at all. A stern conversation with somewhat delinquent family members beats neglect any day!