I recently came across this article and wanted to share it. Additionally, I wanted to share my own experience. http://seniorhousingforum.net/blog/2014/11/4/death-assisted-living
Having worked in assisted living for 16 years, I have had the privilege of saying goodbye to a lot of residents. I remember one gentleman in particular, Marvin. Marvin was our very first resident and took a lot of pride in our company because he had been the first resident. He monitored the construction of the building, picked out his room early on and always felt pretty special with his status as the very first resident of Argent Court. We even cast him in a commercial and in his own special words at the end of the commercial he said the best part of living here was, “You don’t have to do a cotton picking thing.”
To say I loved Marvin was an understatement. I grew quite fond of him and when I took the position of regional director, he became a frequent rider when I made the rounds to our other facilities. One day on one of our trips, he and I were discussing a resident who had recently passed away in the community. I asked him what his thoughts were when a resident passed away in the building. He told me something that I will never forget. He said, “We all want to die here. This is our home. This is where we find comfort and we are surrounded by our loved ones and friends each and every day.”
That conversation had a profound effect on me personally. I started to view death differently.
I had another lady who had been a lifelong smoker and had been in the hospital where she had received a diagnosis of advanced lung cancer. When I visited her at the hospital she said, “Well I guess you heard I have lung cancer and I’m opting to not have treatment.” She said, “I guess this means I’m going to have to move.” I responded to her, “Why do you say that?” She replied, “I’m dying and I guess I will have to move to a nursing home.” I asked, “Do you want to move to a nursing home?” She replied, “No but don’t I have to?” I told her that if she wanted to die in our community and she was willing to provide sitters around the clock, we could accommodate her wishes. I can’t tell you how relieved she was. She wanted to die in what had become her home. She got to die with dignity because it was on her terms in her own home.
I have adopted a much more pragmatic view of death. The fact is the day we are born we literally start dying. I have no problem talking to residents any longer about death. I think it is a conversation we as providers need to encourage family members to have with their loved ones. I am so profoundly honored to have shared in the lives of so many wonderful folks.