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Guest Opinion
Nursing homes: where Kentucky’s forgotten live

by Bernie Vonderheide

Among the most forgotten people in Kentucky are the residents of nursing homes.

Unless one has a family member in a nursing home, the tendency is to forget the more than 30,000 people in Kentucky’s long-term care facilities. This is why problems in nursing homes largely go unnoticed.

Between 2010 and 2020, Kentucky’s entire population growth will be in the 65 and older category. Such data show that there will always be growing numbers of people needing quality care in nursing homes.

Nursing homes are no longer the mom-and-pop, old-folks homes our grandparents knew. Many are now owned by big, wealthy corporations. Sadly, some of these companies often put profit ahead of quality care.

A new organization, Kentuckians For Nursing Home Reform, is being started to educate the public about the problems in nursing homes and promote corrective legislation.

The main problem in nursing homes is staffing, particularly front-line staffing. These are the nurses’ aides who help nursing home residents on a day-to-day basis. There are not enough of them. A federal survey showed that more than 90 percent of the nursing homes in the United States are understaffed.

When there are too few front-line caregivers, the nursing home residents are often neglected and suffer from malnutrition, broken bones, painful bedsores, and dehydration.

Kentucky has no state regulations on staffing. Kentucky regulates nursing homes but goes by the federal standards that say only that there must be “sufficient” staff to provide quality care. “Sufficient” is interpreted by the nursing homes widely and wildly, and in many cases in deference to the profit margin. Fewer caregivers, higher profits.

Some 37 states have regulations on staffing. But not Kentucky.

Most residents of nursing homes cannot speak for themselves. More than half of them have some kind of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The others are too weak and frail. And their families often fear retribution.

We must speak out for them. Won’t you join the crusade by becoming a member of Kentuckians For Nursing Home Reform?–

Bernie Vonderheide of Lexington is a former editor of the Rural Kentuckian (now Kentucky Living), who retired after 23 years as director of public relations at the University of Kentucky. In his retirement he has been an advocate for nursing home reform, and he is the president and founder of Kentuckians For Nursing Home Reform. You can reach him at KyNursingHome

Doctor Mom
Kentucky Living‘s Kindred Spirits columnist has published a new book about leadership training for moms. The easy-reading Mom PhD, 6 Steps to Mastering Leadership Skills for Mom, by Teresa Bell Kindred, includes review exercises at the end of each chapter. Kindred describes the six steps for leading a family with integrity, love, diligence, wisdom, vigor, and faith. The book is published by Howard Publishing Co. of West Monroe, Louisiana,

It’s Brass Band time
This year’s Great American Brass Band Festival in Danville begins Saturday, June 11, at 11 a.m., when a New Orleans-style parade marches down Main Street to the main stage where the music continues until the finale Sunday evening. Bring a blanket or chair and listen to bands playing marches and melodies on authentic Civil War instruments, and ragtime favorites. Events include the Great American decorator picnic Saturday evening, and Sunday worship service on the lawn. For more information, contact the Danville-Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau, (800) 755-0076, or visit the Web site

A week on the water
The Kentucky state parks are making it especially attractive to have fun on the water during National Fishing and Boating Week, June 4-12. Events are scheduled nationwide as well as statewide, offering all kinds of ways to get out and about on the waterways. Several state parks will host a Saturday fishing derby, and others will hold activities throughout the week, including boating safety programs, fly fishing demonstrations, discounted boat rentals, kids crafts, and contests. Call any state park to find out about their plans, or the Kentucky Department of Parks recreation division at (502) 564-2172. You can also find a complete listing of activities on the Web site

Boat gas efficiency tips
With the cost of gasoline continuing to reach record highs, the Boat Owners Association of the United States has a few tips that could significantly reduce your fuel costs.

1. Leave the extra “junk” at home. Don’t load the boat up with weight you don’t need.

2. Watch water weight. At 8.33 pounds per gallon, why keep the water in the tank topped off if you’re only going out for the afternoon?

3. Tune it up. An engine with fouled plugs, dirty air filter, erratic timing, a sputtering carburetor, or weak compression will gobble up fuel and perform poorly. A tune-up could easily pay for itself over the summer.

4. Tune your prop. You can lose up to 5 mph of boat speed with a poorly tuned prop, which means you use more fuel to go the same speed.

5. Clean the boat’s bottom. Barnacles and slime slow the boat dramatically and increase fuel consumption.

6. Keep the boat in trim. A boat with weight distributed properly will move through the water with less effort–and less fuel.

7. Install a fuel flow meter. A fuel flow meter is like a heart monitor; when consumption starts to rise, it’s an early warning that something is amiss. A fuel flow meter also allows you to select a comfortable cruising speed that optimizes the amount of fuel being consumed.

Bookshelf Price Correction
The Bookshelf column in March contained the wrong Joseph-Beth Booksellers list price for Recipes and Remembrances: A Collection of Recipes by Woodford County Woman’s Club. The correct Joseph-Beth price is $27.99.

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