From Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.
“This has been the persistent pattern of how modern society has dealt with old age. The systems we’ve devised were almost always designed to solve some other problem. As one scholar put it, describing the history of nursing homes from the perspective of the elderly “is like describing the opening of the American West from the perspective of the mules; they were certainly there, and the epochal events were certainly critical to the mules, but hardly anyone was paying very much attention to them at the time.”
The sociologist Erving Goffman noted the likeness between prisons and nursing homes half a century ago in his book Asylums. They were, along with military training camps, orphanages, and mental hospitals, “total institutions”—places largely cut off from wider society. “A basic social arrangement in modern society is that the individual tends to sleep, play, and work in different places, with different co-participants, under different authorities, and without an over-all rational plan,” he wrote. By contrast, total institutions break down the barriers separating our spheres of life…”