When the elderly can't take care of themselves, often the most practical solution is a nursing home or assisted living facility. The kids and relatives, if any, have their own lives and can't devote themselves to full time care. Staying in home with a private nursing staff is out of reach for all but the wealthiest. A dedicated facility catering to the needs of the elderly is the pragmatic solution.
But that doesn't make it easy.
When it's time to "put mom in a home," expect a great deal of angst over the decision, quite possibly dividing siblings over the appropriate course of action. Moving to a new place inevitably means abandoning a house filled with personal affects and memories that are irreplaceable. After arrival, it gets worse
: the promised once a week visits from the kids become more like once a month, or once a year. The staff is at best patronizingly helpful, perhaps talking like kindergarten teachers
to the residents, paying heed to the elder's physical needs but not to any need for dignity. At worst, they could be neglectful or abusive. Expect the food to be bland and possibly pureed.
The home could be run-down and dingy, but even if it isn't, it will often be clinical, antiseptic, and dehumanizing. Attempts at warmth with arts-and-crafts project on the walls will be about as effective as motivational posters at a corporate office.
On the other hand, if the kids have some unresolved issues with their parents, then they might see putting them in sub-par nursing homes and never coming back as kicking the father-of-a-bitch.
No Real Life
Anime and Manga
- Japan Inc. had a chapter in which the main characters visit a nursing home (one of them has an elderly parent who may need such a facility and the others use this as an excuse to investigate a possible investment.) The place is decent enough, but very depressing, and the characters decide to recommend investing in ways for senior citizens to continue living with family.
- In Bubba Ho Tep, Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy lived in a run down rest home.
- In The Invention of Lying, there is a nursing home called "A Sad Place for Hopeless Old People."
- In The Real Macaw, this is played with: the plot revolves around preventing the main character's grandfather from getting put in a retirement home, but it's because of the grandfather's enormous debt. They had to sell his house to pay it off.
- In Up, no examples are shown, but the idea is there. The elderly in the Pixar Short George and AJ are so repulsed by the idea of entering a retirement home that they happily follow Carl's example and uproot their houses for destinations unknown. Eventually the denizens of Shady Oaks itself follow suit.
- In Water for Elephants, this is the framing story.
- In Win Win, much of the plot revolves around a well-off elderly man unwillingly consigned to an assisted living facility, and who bears responsibility for this. The facility is apparently decent, but the man is still unhappy about leaving his home.
- In Lois Lowry's Anastasia Krupnik, the heroine's grandmother lives and dies at such a facility.
- In Barbara Brooks Wallace's Peppermints in the Parlor, Sugar Hill Hall as seen through the eyes of the orphan girl working there.
- In Red Dragon, the villain grew up in his grandmother's house modified into a retirement home.
- Water for Elephants
- In House of Anubis, Sarah thinks of her retirement home as this.
- The Golden Girls
- Has a Running Gag that Dorothy had put Sophia in Shady Pines, a retirement home so bleak that simply mentioning sending her back would humble her. She was there for five years before the place burned down.
- In a later episode, Sophia's friend Lillian was in a retirement home that Sophia makes clear is the only home worse than Shady Pines. She then concocts a plan to break her friend out.
- Inverted in The Sopranos. Tony's mother Livia constantly refers to her retirement home as if its a hell-hole, but on the whole it's shown to be a relatively pleasant place to live
- In Waiting For God, this is the setting.
- Ann Sheppard from Heavy Rain lives in one. It's implied that Madison is the first visitor she's had in some time.
- In Mother 3, Alec and Wess are thrown into a retirement home built on the site of Wess's old house.