Rednecks and Roses
What is it like to be old, to live in a nursing home, to deal with the daily frustrations of failing health, to watch one's independence dwindle away, and to struggle to deal with the challenge of daily existence? How does one ask for help, attract the minimum of attention that one needs, deal with the lack of privacy, the loss of friends and family, combat loneliness and find the courage and resources to meet the demands that each day brings while facing the menacing prospect of ever-narrowing horizons?
The Home, by Marion Caryl Somers, portrays with realism what the struggle is like in emotional and practical terms for the frail elderly to live in a nursing facility.
This often-neglected area of the human condition is a facet of the common experience that has been awaiting its chronicler and publicist. The Home is a case study written in novel form, using as role models such books as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey and Mash, by R. Hooker.
The characters within The Home fall into three categories: (1) the residents; (2) the staff; (3) volunteer workers and visiting friends and family. The residents are themselves divided into two groups: those who function fairly well and those with physical, mental and/or emotional problems and limitations.
The time frame of The Home is a one-year period. The setting is cosmopolitan and urban. Residents come from every walk of life. The thrust of the book highlights interaction among residents, families, volunteers and staff.
The reader of The Home is able to understand what it is like to be in a wheelchair and ask for assistance for life's daily essentials. Those confined within the institution are left with no option but the nursing home facility. The businesslike manner of administration and its decision-making policies have an impact not only on the clients but on the staff and families as well. Legitimate needs of the geriatric population versus the personal wants and the need for individual freedom are carried out in the story line. The degradation resulting from dependency and decay are clearly enumerated as the story unfolds the routines within an institutional setting. The conflict between administration and workers during the strike period, and the impact the strike has on both clients and staff, is highlighted by the sense of fear and frustration of all concerned.
The subject of death is dealt with from the client's point of view and the sense of loss that the staff feels and absorbs in their daily experience. One's own concept of mortality is brought to the fore. The main character, Rosie Hellman, holds on tenaciously to life, and within her capacity lives each day to the fullest.
Monica Cameron, the Activity Director, is the central staff figure. She is a woman with two teenage children who is divorced and attending night school. The relationship that develops between Rosie and Monica is mutually supportive and insightful. Each learns from and admires the other.
The Home deals with the process of coping with daily human needs and where we each are positioned in the continuum of life.
The potential market:
The Home comes at a time when there is a dramatic shift in the percentage of elderly in our population as a consequence of the prolongation of life. About 7.4 percent of adults over age 65 lives in nursing facilities in the United States. The projection for year 2020 is about 16 percent. The problems The Home addresses are relevant to a far greater number of Americans than ever before.
This book is designed to address two target audiences: