Living and Dying in a Long-Term Care Facility

Gilah Silber, M.D. Living and Dying in a Long-Term Care Facility: Notes From a Nursing Home Doctor. BookSurge Publishing, 2007. 179 pages.

$14.95 from Amazon

As the population ages, more and more people are entering nursing homes. But what is life like in these often-dreaded facilities? Living and Dying in a Long-Term Care Facility offers a behind-the-scenes look at the long-term care system from a nursing home physician's perspective.

The author, Gilah Silber, M.D., is a geriatrician who has worked in nursing homes for the past decade. Silber calls this book a "travel guide" through life in a long-term care facility. The book tracks a typical day in Silber's life and along the way presents candid portraits of the patients she treats and their families. Silber's stories break stereotypes about typical nursing home residents, showing a broad spectrum that includes the elderly but still mentally sharp, the middle-aged but mentally ill, and the young but morbidly obese.

Through her stories Silber explains the aging experience, how a nursing home runs, and how a care team works. Silber is critical of the current system, in particular how care is often provided according to a business model (whether the patient will make the nursing home money) when, in her opinion, it should be provided according to an ethical model (what is best for the patient). Whether or not you have family in a nursing home Living and Dying in a Long-Term Care Facility is an eye-opening and engaging read that will provoke thought about how institutions handle aging and the end of life.