Me: Money Making Industry Specializing in End of Life Care. You: Overworked and Cool With Checking in Once Every Five Years
For the viewing, I sported green Nike running shoes and a 2nd hand brown suit. I thought I looked fine. But on the way over to the church, my friend, who I'll call Tony, laid into me:
"You look like an idiot. What the hell are you doing wearing that? You're the only fool I know that would go to a funeral dressed like you're running to a 1975 prom."
Tony had shiny hard polished shoes, a new black suit, and a pressed gray shirt. Even his tie was respectfully somber---a slim two-toned piece perfectly knotted. My green tie, meanwhile, featured a flock of ducks that, in hindsight, appeared to be flying away from my outfit.
For both of us, this was our first grown up event as grown-ups.
"How did you pick out what to wear?" I asked.
"I got a girlfriend," Tony answered. "You should try and get yourself one of those. Just don't wear those clothes when you do."
The point here is sometimes everyone can use a second party, like a girlfriend, who watches out for---and checks--- bad ideas that could lead to questionable actions. Someone to make sure norms and basic mores are being followed.
But in the world of residential senior care, assisted living facilities (alfs) have few girlfriends to check potentially foolish behavior. They are often under-regulated. And while some actively advertise as the step between independent living and nursing homes, many other alfs are marketed as an alternative to nursing homes.
Alfs have become popular the past two decades. Meanwhile, nursing homes are often depicted as being staffed by neglectful or even nefarious employees, making the facilities a torturous last earthly stop for grandpa before he's stuck waiting in line to see St. Peter. This, despite the fact they are strictly regulated, and staffed by personnel that, at the very least, often have to carry medical malpractice insurance.
Getting back to the funeral anecdote, as part of my fellowship project, I'm going to look at whether alfs are capable of dressing themselves without much in the way of a governmental girlfriend. I'll report on the push for regulation, those opposing it, and current attempts to hold the facilities accountable.
(And before I get any emails from alf managers/lobbyists/supporters/otherpaidinterests, I'm not saying the metaphorical girlfriend (or boyfriend) is needed. So chill.)