Nursing Home Advocate

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Nearly two million Americans are currently spending their golden years in nursing homes.  Many of those residents suffer from loneliness, with no one to care for them. It's this sad reality that has prompted one United Methodist to commit her career to advocating for the elderly.  Whether it's getting a needed wheelchair or just sitting down for tea, nothing is too much for Bea Knagg. Reed Galin reports.

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Adeline Gross / Nursing Home Patient (singing): “How great thou art …”

Ninety-two-year-old Adeline Gross has lived in a nursing home for 16 years.

Bea Knagg / Elderly Advocate: “I’m Bea Knagg with the ombudsman program."

She rarely has visitors. But United Methodist Bea Knagg is a regular.

Bea Knagg: “Is there anything that is going on today that I need to help you with?”

Bea is a volunteer advocate who visits over 30 elderly residents a month, brightening their days and making sure they are well cared-for.

Lorrayne Strebeck / Nursing Home Resident: “Make sure people are doing the right thing and doing their job.”

Bea Knagg: “We’re there to let them know they have someone they can count on to help them resolve a complaint, to make their voice heard.”

Bea Knagg: “Mr. Guzman, may I come in?”

Bea is able to communicate that someone is listening and cares.

Bea Knagg: “Your head is hurt? Is it all right if I talk to the nurse about the problem you are having with the pain?”

Patty Ducayet / The Senior Source: “Nursing homes can feel like a prison to some people. Because if you don’t have anyone that visits or anyone to listen to you or anyone who you trust to deal with a problem, it’s prisonlike."

“Hey, look, you got a new wheelchair!”

Mr. Ward’s old chair didn’t support him properly, so Bea made sure he got a new one.

“Does that feel better for your neck?”

Bea encourages the patients to speak up for themselves, and others when necessary.

Adeline Gross: “I enjoy people coming in. It thrills me and makes me stronger.”

Bea Knagg: “I feel good every day that I go home, because I know I’ve touched someone. They touch me as much as I touch them—probably more.”

And with Bea as their eyes and ears, life continues more positively for her new friends.


Bea is currently training other volunteers to visit residents in nursing homes as well as assisted-living facilities, making sure the patients’ civil rights are not violated.  Her next goal is to make sure they all get to vote in the upcoming election.