I was thinking about what nursing homes might look like when it’s my time for long term care. After all, I spend most everyday in an around today’s nursing homes and I see so many things that relate to the past for the residents to recall times gone by and to bring back happy memories. What will nursing homes be like in the future?
First off, I expect there to be a lot of competition for my business – after all the baby boomer’s will have caused more nursing home beds to be brought onto the market than ever before. There will be so many available beds in nursing homes they will need to offer incentives to move in. "Free haircuts for the first 10 new residents." "Get a bed, get one free." And since Gen X’ers are so brand sensitive, I would expect there not only to be nursing homes but levels of services within the home – with packages like the cell phone companies offer today. Can’t you see the Verizon Wireless Rehabilitation Center with roll-over minutes on physical therapy and daily nursing home rates ending in .99? I’d like the friends and family visitation plan with free visits on nights and weekends, please.
The home itself will be different for my generation. Gone will be the TV game shows and Bingo so popular today. Instead we will have oldie but goodies like Nintendo and Sony Playstation (probably the cause of a lot of the early arthritis and carpal tunnel for us too). I bet they’ll even have books printed on paper! We’ll watch re-runs of Survivor, South Park and The Simpsons. That relaxing waltz music that pervades every nursing home you have been in? Gone. For my generation, the soft sounds of AC/DC, Smashing Pumpkins and Red Hot Chili Peppers will keep us rocking in our rocking chairs. The nursing home staff of the future (who will probably prefer classical harpsichord music as everything in this world seems to truly cycle) will just think our music as boring old background noise. Once in a while a special visitor might drop in from our generation, sort of Bob Hope/USO style. Won’t it be great for Cyndi Lauper, Bodie Miller and Monica Lewinsky to drop in and reminisce about the day? We can all watch loops of Ferris Bueller together.
What to wear? Well, Abercrombie & Fitch’s line of easy access night gowns for geriatric women (with just enough sexiness to make our grandchildren blush) and from REI, the Marmot Gortex Elder Pant with Stain and Odor Protection with or without colostomy holder will be all the rage with the men. Of course, no nursing home would be complete without 400 count or better Frette sheets – and don’t think they’ll be able to hid from all the forums that the residents will be surfing to know if the nursing home is holding out on them. Can’t you see us not TXTg each other from room to room? Like, "U want 2 go 2 end of hall wit me?" All wheelchairs will have flip out laptops and next gen GPS so not only will we know where we are going, but we will know where we ARE.
The food court will be a great improvement on traditional nursing home fare. After all, Gen X’ers need everything customized to order. No more trays of mystery meat and jello of the day. We will demand all manner of choices, including nifty walker friendly drive-thru’s right there in the nursing home for a late night burger. Gone will be the dishwater grade coffee of today, we will have double no-fat soy vanilla latte with whip from the Starbucks baristas added to each nursing home. It will be quaint for our children to see us enjoying Ring Dings, Ben & Jerry’s and Wonder Bread. I bet they’ll even have "Trans Fat Night" – on the good ‘ol days!
Seriously, assisted living facilities and nursing homes are truly changing with the times. There are now major national brands and they are starting to identify trends and the preferences of their residents. This will continue as the baby boomers, and their buying power, dominate long term care services. It will be an interesting future for what has mainly been drab institutional settings with little choice for resident. I guess the nursing home can be something to look forward to…