Unless subsidized by a church or a charity, an assisted living facility is a business that must make a profit to stay open. We who buy into assisted living are fortunate that we have a choice in where we spend our money. We consider the quality of the food, cleanliness, convenience and services, but we are strongly influenced by some emotional factors that are beyond the realm of efficiency.
One of our greatest needs is to find a sense of emotional connection, of loyalty, and above all, a sense of family. We try to bond with our keepers and we feel sad when they move on. If they go to better jobs, we find solace in an emotional parting and we try to stay in touch. In many ways we are trying to hold onto the concept of a family and a time long gone in our lives.
In a ruthless business world, we know that we are often fed mechanical kindness, and pretended affection, but we are seldom fooled. We oldies lose many of our abilities, but we seem to know the real thing when it comes to caring concern for us.
We appreciate routine politeness and efficiency that sometimes parades as love or affection, but we are not often deceived about those who come to really care for us.
When someone sees us through a terrible calamity in our lives and shows us that they really care for us, they become family that we are not willing to part with willingly.
Going to a new facility is always an option, but it is not quite that simple because we have to leave old friends and make new ones. Choosing to leave a place you have learned to call home is a wrenching experience somewhat similar to a child having to contend with a separation of his parents.
Yes, we are looking for efficiency, but we are also looking for some kind of emotional stability that a rapid turnover of personnel denies us.
Most business establishments recognize this but big business tends to fake it because they have so much trouble implementing it from afar. My credit card company does not know me from Adam, but my local bank does and Vicki knows my anxieties, my memory lapses and my idiosyncrasies quite well. Vicki is not just an efficient bank clerk to me; she is more like family. She is First Financial to me and if she goes, I lose my loyalty to the bank, which at this point is very strong.
Vicki is a real person and not a literary creation. I use her with the hope that a gentle hint to overzealous authoritarians may lead to some examination of the concept of an efficiency expert operating far away from the feelings and emotions of the customer that his company must consider in order to survive.
TOBY HIGHTOWER is a retired educator and former Hopkinsville High School teacher. His email address is email@example.com. Write to him at 222 S. 25th St., Apartment 434, Terre Haute, IN. 47803.