A Place For Who?

Perhaps you have seen the advertisements on television for A Place for Mom, “the nation’s largest FREE elder care referral service.” According to its website, A Place for Mom can direct you to elder care resources and living arrangements in your area. Despite its title, A Place for Mom is a service for anyone who is elderly and needs help – it’s not just for elderly moms.

It’s rather interesting that the company’s title singles out moms. Why not mention dads? Maybe they’re just cutting to the chase and saying, “Listen, we all know that mom is the most important, and no one really cares where dad goes,” so they decided to name the website solely after the matriarch of the family.

Who on earth was their marketing consultant? A place for mom. It sounds like they are trying to find a spot for chipped China dishes or old sneakers they’re not quite ready to throw away. I envision the company’s title stemming from three squabbling siblings, sitting around a computer arguing over what to do with their ailing mother.

“I’m not taking her! Hell no. I had her for the past five Christmases and you know how THAT turned out.”

“Well, she can’t live with us! I simply don’t have the room now that Jake moved back home and converted his bedroom into a studio so he and his rock band can practice.”

“Someone has to take her.  Here, hand me your laptop. Let me Google ‘where to put your mom’ and see what happens. There has to be someplace for her to go.”

“A place for her to go … hmm… a place for mom. You know, that kind of has a nice ring to it.”

While my stint in medical social work was fairly brief, I can tell you with full certainty that the elderly do not like moving into  assisted living facilities. It means losing their last shred of independence; it’s the final step before the big NH (nursing home). Now picture the situation being made worse by referring to a company called  A Place For Mom.

“Uncle Tom, you know it’s no longer safe for you to live home alone. Karen and I are worried about you, especially since the last kitchen fire. We really think it’s time for you to move into a facility where you will be cared for.”

“I’m not moving into any nursing home. Those are for old people.”

“Now Uncle Tom, it’s not a nursing home. Karen and I used the services of A Place For Mom and we found the best -”

“A place for Tom? It’s named after me?”

“Not a place for Tom. It was called A Place For MOM. Not TOM. MOM.”

Mom? I’m not a woman! Why are you putting me in a ladies place?”

Need I go on?

In reality, the company’s intention may not have been to exclude dads or other people. The original name could very well have been A Place for Mom, Dad, Aunts, Uncles, Crotchety Neighbors and Elderly Family Friends. Or A Place for Mom, Dad, et al. I suppose they also  figured So They Don’t Have To Live With You would not only be crass, but equally wordy.  End result? The name A Place for Mom was chosen.


When Life Gives You …

When a freak autumn blizzard nailed our state two years ago, many made the best of a difficult situation. Once electricity was restored, these pioneers posted statuses on Facebook like, “Didn’t have power for five days, so the kids and I camped around the fireplace and roasted marshmallows!” and “After singing Kumbaya, we all snuggled in our sleeping bags. I just love October blizzards!”

Wow. I’m impressed (and slightly nauseous). As the winds howled, these people turned a challenging situation into a good one, as I pressed my forehead to the window, watching the power lines – begging them to work.

Having the ability to take a difficult situation and make the best of it is a great quality. But having the ability to take a difficult situation and use it to your benefit is even more impressive.

When Life Gives You Lemons (Or A Confused Grandfather), Make Lemonade (Or Buy Beer).

Our neighbor opened her home to her father when his Alzheimer’s became too advanced and he could no longer live alone. This was quite an adjustment for the family – especially for our neighbor’s sons. The oldest (Jason) was forced to give up his bedroom for his grandfather, and had to share a bedroom with his younger brother.

Yet, Jason used this seemingly unfair situation to his benefit. One afternoon during his Senior year in high school, Jason coaxed his confused grandfather into his car. He and his friends then drove Grandpa to a convenience store. (Lucky for Jason, Grandpa loved car rides.) They proceeded to put Grandpa in a wheelchair, plop a six pack of beer on his lap, and wheel the confused, old man up to the cashier. Grandpa was then instructed to hand the cashier the six pack. Grandpa was certainly over the legal age to purchase beer, and the cashier had no choice but to let them purchase it.

Hate Your Job? Find a Refuge (Or Watch The Price Is Right).

Several years ago when I worked in a hospital, there was a cleaning lady (perhaps I should use the politically correct title she was given: Housekeeper) who clearly did not enjoy her job. She went about her work with a permanent scowl on her face, giving the sinks a haphazard wipe; the floors a cursory mop.

One morning, as the Housekeeper was cleaning a patient’s room, she noticed the patient was asleep while the television was on. After propping her mop against the wall, the Housekeeper gingerly eased herself into a chair and quietly tilted the TV in her direction.

Eventually this became routine. Every day, the Housekeeper would poke her head into random hospital rooms, find a patient who was comatose, and proceed to watch her favorite soap operas and game shows. This continued for quite sometime, until a patient who was not in a coma – but merely sleeping – opened his eyes to find his TV on and a strange lady sitting in the chair next to his bed.

To all of you who brave October snowstorms by doing crafts by candlelight, or teaching your children how to canoe when your driveway is flooded – I am deeply impressed. But to those of you who use confused, elderly men to purchase beer, or manage to watch television and get paid for it, well, more power to you.