As I wrote last week, nursing homes and physical rehabilitation centers (PRC) go hand in hand. It's rare you'd find one without the other. They're also referred to as “Skilled Nursing Facilities” (SNF). Nevertheless, their poor performances makes one think there's someone higher up who's extremely generous using that moniker.

My complaint covers the hapless services these SNFs render. Those power-that-be who could have started the ball rolling by getting these homes back to par, or should have, either don't or won't. By using this media, a service for others is provided by helping them avoid those pitfalls.

The sad state of these SNFs, where sooner or later we could all find ourselves as residents, is why this is a multi-part column; to help others from experiencing some of the misery of what I've been through the past 57 weeks.

As I've said time and again, the biggest problem seems to be the food they serve. Think about it. All our lives we're taught that with moderation on sugar and salt usage, fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, chicken, fish and very little red meat is a healthy diet. Then, still in the stage of recuperation and hungering to feel better in order to get home, we're sent to these “Skilled Nursing Facilities” where we're fed what I call gruel.

Creamed chipped beef on toast, a detested breakfast staple served in the armed services and known among the troops as SOS, is a far cry better than what they serve in most of these SNFs.

“But they give you a menu,” is often the defense I hear. “Why do you select foods you dislike?” folks ask.

What difference does it make. Regardless of what you choose, they send you something else, something left over because no other patient chose it, or something that's been warmed up the last few days in hopes of not having to discard it.

The menu read scalloped potatoes. Instead they served hash browns. I've ordered peaches and lemon pudding was served. Last week, the menu listed “vegetarian vegetable soup.” Now to me, that means a hot meatless soup with various vegetables such as corn, beans, peas, carrots, onions, diced potatoes, etc. Imagine my surprise when I lifted the lid and discovered it was nothing more than a bowl of tomato soup; and right out of a can. Actually, it tasted more like warm V8 juice, and maybe it was. From that, they may have been justified in calling it vegetarian vegetable.

Banana cake, listed on the menu, was chocolate chip cookies. Scrambled eggs with ham and cheese are now served as eggs over easy. And a slice of dry, white, light toast becomes two slices of whole wheat, dark toast made from bread that's so hard it tastes as if it had been left out overnight and then slathered with some clear, cold, greasy, concoction of whatever it is they use to slather on toast.

If ever you're served exactly what you ordered, regardless of how it tastes, you can consider that an omen for the start of a good day.

And fresh fruits, other than seedless grapes, are as rare as hen's teeth. My wife, Peggy, brings me fresh oranges, apples and bananas. She fills a container of fresh strawberries, blueberries, pineapples and raspberries. In the summer she brings my three favorites; ice cold watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydews. Often she makes me home made soup or some other dish I like. She knows me well enough to know I won't touch poorly prepared foods. If it wasn't for her, I might lay here for who knows when, weakened from lack of nourishment.

Last week I advised you to check out these “Skilled Nursing Facilities” first, before committing a loved one to them. This week I'm adding to it. Make sure you sample the food. If it's the kind you wouldn't eat, please don't subject your loved one to it. They're placed there in order to fully recover, get well and return home. Not to have a relapse.

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