Nursing home bloggers

A couple of years ago I wondered if they have Internet access in nursing homes. I thought it made sense back then but now it seems…inevitable. I’m sure there must be nursing homes with net access for residents. But are there people living in nursing homes who are blogging? If so, (and there must be) it would seem to raise some interesting issues.

Most of Barb’s clients are individuals or corporations in the area of “long term care.” And she’s something of an expert in this area, but she really didn’t have ready answers to my questions. Good lawyers seldom do.

Here’s a scenerio: I’m 75 years old and still have most of my marbles but my kids don’t think I should be living alone so we all agree I should move into Sunnyvale Estates where I can get the day-to-day care I need. I have my own room and my one phone-line. Every day I flip open my Thinkpad, log in to my Typepad account, and blog away.

Let’s say I notice a little whiff scotch on the breath of the aide that brings me my lunch (luke-warm hotdog cut into tiny, no-choke bites…and apple sauce). I report it to the administration but they don’t do anything, so I blog it. A reporter for the New York Times happens to be researching a story on nursing homes and finds my blog. (Sound of shit hitting the adult diaper).

Or maybe I’m bed-fast for a while and I start getting a bed sore. So I take a photo with my little digital camera and post it to my blog. Hello!

My question to Barb was: Could the nursing home administration keep me from blogging. Did I give up my first-amendment rights when I moved in? Certainly the other residents have a right to privacy and I couldn’t/shouldn’t violate that with my blogging. But let’s say I stuck pretty much with my life and care in the facility. Can the nursing home stop me? And on what grounds?

I can’t believe this hasn’t come up yet. A Technorati search on “nursing home” lists 53,000+ posts. Looks like there are lots of posts about family members who are in nursing homes but (the few I scanned) didn’t appear to be written by a resident.

One might argue that by the time someone has to move to a nursing home, they are no longer capable of maintaining a blog. I spent a good deal of time in an excellent facility where my father spent the last few years of his life. And many of the residents probably could not have handled the logistics of blogging, even if they knew what it was.

But that was then and this is now. When we boomers move to Sunnyvale, we’re damn sure gonna want net access and we’ll have it with high-speed, state-of-the-art mobile phones. And a few million of us will be bloggers. An enlightened administrator would get out in front of this. Hell, blogging might be better for the residents than bingo. And it might offer other benefits. Why not encourage it. Might even be a good idea to have the Sunnyvale Estates Blog so you can engage in the conversation swirling around you.

[When I moved from Blogger to Typepad, I lost the link to the excellent cartoon site from which image above was linked. If anyone can provide the url, I’d like to add it here.]

Update: Found this AP story over at MSNBC: “Web savvy seniors embrace blogs

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