Charlie had barely come inside the suite when he was met with angry muttering coming from Hazel in the bedroom. At first, he wasn’t sure is she was complaining about something he did or didn’t do, and was a little hesitant to approach at first. That was until he heard the name “Florence” and knew he was safe.
“The NERVE of that woman! Calling out of concern for me? More like calling to collect gossip about us being in a HOME!,” Hazel was lost in her own rant, talking mostly to herself at this point. Charlie did his best to approach her as calmly and gently as possible. “What’s going on dear?,” he asked, hoping he wouldn’t make matters worse. Hazel took a deep breath to collect herself, “I’m sorry. Florence just called and sent me into a bit of a dither. She’s got it in her head that after your stroke and my fall we’ve had to move into a home.” Charlie sat down at the end of the bed and put his hand on Hazel’s foot. “Well, perhaps that’s how she understands things. “ Hazel sighed. She wasn’t happy that word would be spreading like wildfire about her personal business, with most of it being complete misinformation.
Charlie did his best to show he understood. “I just got back from Dr. Wong’s office and to be honest, she didn’t even know what to call this place. I call it a condo, she calls it assisted living, the gal that sold us the place called it lifestyle living…who knows what the correct term is?” Charlie gave Hazel a meek smile before adding, “And really, does it even matter? It’s our home.”
“It does Charlie. My mother lived in an auxiliary hospital during her last years. I was a nurse for a few years as well. Does this look like a hospital to you?” Hazel gestured towards the walls of the room which had contemporary finishes, her artwork and pictures displayed, and a large window dressed with curtains they had brought from the old house.
“Florence didn’t say we were living in a hospital. She said we were in a home, right?” Charlie asked for clarity. “Hospital. Nursing home. Same thing, Charlie. I worked so hard to get myself out of the hospital so that we could come home…here…and people like Florence are out there thinking that I’m no better off.” Charlie got up off the bed to move to the head of the bed so he could lean down and give Hazel a hug. “Honey, all that matters is that WE know how hard you’ve worked. You’ve come so far in such a short amount of time. Who cares what Florence is out there saying? In the end, our friends will be over to visit and will see how nice and swanky the condo is and Florence will look foolish.”
Hazel hunched over and shook her head. “No. That’s the problem, dear. Our friends won’t come to visit. In their minds, we’re sick and old and ‘in a home’ now.” Her voice trailed off at the end and the room got very quiet. Charlie had nothing to say. There was some truth in what Hazel just said – it had even taken their family quite some time to understand it all. The reality of how people’s misunderstandings shape their interactions wasn’t new to them, and Charlie’s heart sank a little.
Public perception of seniors housing can greatly impact how people approach it. Positive and negative views can be shaped by real experiences, or by what people read, think or hear. If misinformation goes unchallenged, it enters into public discourse and becomes very difficult to change understanding and language.
ASCHA is working towards enhancing how people understand and approach seniors housing – and we NEED YOUR HELP! Please take a moment to participate in our 10-15 minute survey help us better understand your thinking around seniors housing. We want to arrive at a common language that all Albertans understand and feel comfortable using. Click on the link below!