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Assisted living in Austria

Posted by RenB on June 21, 2007 – 11:24 pm

This is the view near the house where my friend will be moving into a new assisted-living house. It is looking toward the center of town, and there was once a fortress on that hill, till Napoleon came to town, way back when. His army couldn’t conquer it, so they threatened to burn down the city if they didn’t surrender. They surrendered, and the fortress was razed, but they let folks keep the bell tower and the odd clock tower—for a ransom. The name of the river is Mur. (pronounced as moor)

(The clock tower is ‘odd’ because the long and short hands are switched: long one the hour, short one the minutes, from which we got the local saying ‘The clocks always run differently in Graz.’ It isn’t always meant as a compliment…)

The weather looks pleasant but it was a humid thirty-four degrees Celsius Monday, and no relief since.

I had an interview with the woman who runs the place, and a look at the house. It is big. The rooms themselves aren’t actually, about 14 sqare meters, but each has a spacious bath fully equipped for handicapped people. That is in addition to the living space size. The rooms have internet connections, telephone, connections for digital satellite tv, and their own buzzer to let in visitors. The rooms are not furnished, so everyone gets to take their own, the most important things, the ones that mean most to them. And when they move in, the ‘Diakonie’ moves their stuff for them and gets them settled in, even.

(Diakonie is a protestant group, sort of like the Caritas, but they don’t prosyletise. I kiddingly call them ‘die Agonie’.)

The common rooms are spacious.

I think they want their people to mingle, thus the rooms a bit small, but cozy. Looks that way, anyway. Each floor has a spacious communal kitchen, and they can cook something if they want to. There is a gymnastic room and a rec room up on a grassed roof terrace with a spectacular view. Various things are offered weekly; memory training, dancing or movement therapy, card games….

Everyone can come and go as they please, more or less. No one is forced to do what they don’t want to do. There are personnel present from eight am to about six-thirty pm. Nights they are on their own, but can have an emergency call button if they want.

So how this works from the financial side? Well, his pension isn’t very large, so normally he wouldn’t be able to afford it. Therefore it works like this: They take eighty percent of his pension for rent, the rest is his spending money. The disability monies go for his food and other services he would have to pay extra for. Cleaning his room, washing his clothes, stuff like that. And what isn’t covered by that gets paid for by the local and federal government (our taxes, in other words). It’s a pretty good deal, seems like.

I don’t have an inkling about how that works there, but have the suspicion that with a pension the size of his, he’d probably just rot where he is, never get down those ten stairs or out of the house, and stare out the window and go mad. But what do I know….

Will take some more photos of the house when he gets there, to give you a better idea of what it all looks like here. But first we have to finish the preliminaries, and get him moved, and sell off the rest of the household, which is going to break my heart a little. You gather things over decades, and then have to let it all go. Am not a collector as such, and I don’t cling, but some things carry special memories about the day you found this or that which gives you special value, but I guess you know what I mean… Later. 2 am and need sleep.

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  1. 1. Anntichrist S. Coulter Said:

    Beautiful.

    And at the same time, so depressing.

    Because here, human lives are not worth so much as a dime, let alone compassion and dignity.

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