NOBODY'S HOME: Candid Reflections of a Nursing Home Aide

Thomas Edward Gass, Author, T. Gass, Author, Bruce C. Vladeck, Foreword by . Cornell Univ. $21.95 (216p) ISBN 978-0-8014-4243-8

This honest and heartfelt book is a firsthand account of the reality of life in a nursing home. Gass, who spent five years in a Catholic seminary, ran a halfway house and was a teacher, returned to the U.S. after many years in Asia to care for his dying mother. That experience led him to work as a poorly paid aide in a long-term care facility in the Midwest. In a calm, intelligent and matter-of-fact style, Gass describes his often unpleasant daily routines. He cleans, feeds and dresses the patients; tries to converse with them, although they are often senile; and mostly, attempts to preserve their dignity. Perhaps Gass's most important observation is how uncomfortable everyone is around the home's residents—the staff, the relatives and the visitors. To combat that, he tries to do something to engage them: "Face to face, up close and personal, I learn to focus my full attention in flashes. One moment at a time, out comes my inner child. When I happen to touch residents softly or treat them affectionately, something may melt within and they become temporarily free of these depressing walls...." In the epilogue, Gass offers specific suggestions to reform nursing homes. He proposes having pets for the patients and letting children interact with older people more regularly. While this volume's depressing subject may be off-putting to some people, the book should be required reading for health care professionals and others in the medical field. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/23/2004
Release date: 01/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-8014-7261-9
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