Imagine yourself as a person in her early 40s coming to a nursing facility for rehabilitation. When I came through the door I was pleasantly surprised. What I had in my mind as an “old folks home” quickly became a place where real people worked, lived, and seemed like a family.
After I went home and had to come back again for more rehabilitation, I knew where I wanted to go. I knew I didn’t want to burden my family, and if I couldn’t be home, I wanted to be here at Carillon Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. In the back of my mind, I didn’t want to admit that I would ever need to be in a nursing home. It was a difficult decision, but my health was failing, and I had no choice. More importantly, I wanted to be in the hands of people who I knew and trusted.

Freedom To Choose

When the times come to talk about my care, I am fully involved and make decisions about how I am cared for and what my preferences are. Family and friends can come and go, there’s no restriction on visiting me, I am given the choice to get up when I want and go to bed when I want.

I felt depressed in the beginning, knowing that I wouldn’t be going home, but the nurses, doctors, and all of the people who work in the departments helped me come through it.

What I want everyone to know is that a long term nursing home can be a place where a young person can feel alive. I found myself becoming involved in activities and making longlasting friendships. A nursing home has to adjust its regular schedules for someone like me, and Carillon has. We don’t play Bingo every day, we have beautiful parties, Wii Games, socials. Playing Black Jack, trivia games, and cooking programs here are better than a nap any day. Sometimes I get together with a special friend, and we enjoy a meal together.

Finding A New Outlet

The staff listen to me, and when I ask, they always try to accommodate my dialysis schedule so I can be a part of the things I enjoy. They suggested that I become part of the Nursing Home Leadership Group, where we meet at each other’s nursing homes. We talk about our rights and how we can accomplish changes in nursing homes all around. I like having a voice that is heard, and this group has a voice. This makes me feel independent, as I travel to other homes in the community.

In a place where 315 people live, my privacy is respected, and I can always decide if I want to be with others or find a quiet corner to read a book.

I have had to learn to deal with other residents that may not be so friendly and just accept them as they are. I found that when I came to this realization, life got better. It’s not so hard to take people as they are, say hello, and go about my day.

If you told me 20 years ago I would have ended up in a nursing home, I wouldn’t have believed it, let alone thought I would actually enjoy it. And I do.
Ida Cuomo is a resident at Carillon Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Huntington, N.Y.