For an awfully long time, families weighing how best to care for an elderly relative would have been wise to scratch a Forest Park nursing home off their list. Piles of state reports indicating systemic problems at this facility should have been enough to steer people away.

Thankfully, that is no longer the case.

Berkshire Nursing and Rehab, on Roosevelt Road near the western edge of town, was recently removed from a federally maintained list of the worst nursing facilities in the country. This was achieved after two inspections within a 12-month span found the quality of care to be greatly improved.

It’s also important to note the anecdotal evidence that conditions are improving. This newspaper spoke with an ombudsman charged with inspecting area nursing homes who, over the course of five years, has grown familiar with the facility. Unsettling odors and complaints from family members have either disappeared or dropped off significantly since co-owner and administrator David Berkowitz took over, she said.

Under a previous management group, and while operating under a different name, this nursing home spent an astonishing 39 months on that federal watch list. For the patients and their families who endured such a dark place, this is tragic.

On the whole, this country does not treat its elderly citizens well. We make them fight for health care and insurance coverage at the same time many of them are pinching pennies to keep food in the house. Socially, old age tends to bring isolation and the feeling that society no longer has much use for your talents. No one wants to be tossed aside or warehoused. Changing this culture begins with personal decisions made with respect and care. At the very least, the options we offer our seniors should not diminish their dignity.

Scorecard says we’re winning

Residents who follow their village council with even a casual interest have probably noticed a trend in the group. That Marty Tellalian-he sure does lose a lot of debates.

It isn’t on every vote or on every discussion that it happens, but the commissioner often finds himself on the outside of the majority. There are also occasions when his arguments persuade others on the council to join him. What’s most important, though, is that these disagreements on policy have not fallen into the sewer the way they did with the previous council. Sure, the public has seen the occasional flare up, but commissioners are quick to recognize the path they’re on and restore themselves to order.

It’s also important for voters to recognize that, whether you agree with Tellalian, his style has substance. He’s a stickler for details and he often asks more questions than his colleagues.

In politics, people keep score and often for the wrong reasons. In government, it’s less about winning or losing and more about the public’s understanding.