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Jeffrey Beam, Emerson College

Janice Payne, Dr. Gregory Payne's sister, spoke at the International Academy of Business Disciplines conference today.  She spoke at two panels - "Health Communication & Public Policy" and "Public Diplomacy In The World."  The topic of her discussion involved care of the elderly and the benefits of keeping elderly family members within the home instead of shipping them off to retirement homes.  Janice spoke about how this is unique to American culture, and how providing care for elderly family members is perceived as an honor in other cultures.  She also spoke about how retirement homes are a money-making business like every other business in America, and how they are no different in looking to trim costs whenever possible.  Obviously, this has a direct negative effect on the care provided for patients.


I can completely relate to this presentation.  My grandmother lived with my family in Maine for four years.  My mother took take of her mother on her own by taking her into our home; she also had the assistance of care-givers that came to our home to help my grandmother with everyday tasks.  My mother was vehemently opposed to placing my grandmother in a retirement home if it could be avoided.  Taking care of my grandmother put a strain on my mother, who also balanced a full-time job and cooked for my father, my grandmother, and myself, but she was more than willing in the face of any alternative situations.  I certainly enjoyed having my grandmother around; as an only child, it was nice to have someone around when I got home from school.

When my parents get to the age where they need assistance caring for themselves, I will be more prepared to provide care for them due to my past experience with my grandmother.  I feel as though I've bucked the component of American culture that neglects the elderly, and I feel that this is a lesson that needs to reverberate further throughout the country.  Someone at the session commented that providing care at the end of a life is just as essential as the care provided for someone at the beginning of their life, and I couldn't agree more.
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