An account of life in an average American nursing home, this book looks at American geriatric facilities. Using six years of anthropological research, Joel Savishinsky analyzes the lives and experiences of residents, staff members and volunteers. He addresses the contradictory attitudes American society has shown towards geriatric facilities and the aging process itself: the tensions between caring and curing, morality and mortality, privacy and supervision, home and institution, and selfishness and altruism. Savishinsky portrays the strengths and weaknesses of the nursing home in a humanistic way, emphasizing how the nursing home affects the individuals who live and work there. He also discusses inventive recreation programs, such as pet therapy, suggesting they can alleviate loneliness and provide meaningful opportunities for residents. Savishinsky challenges the stereotypic view of aging and institutional life, concluding that not all nursing homes are "warehouses" for the dying; he offers several recommendations for improving the quality of life and work in geriatric institutions.
This book is presented in nontechnical language and should be of interest to the general reader as well as to professionals in health, social science, social work, and gerontology.