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Sunday, November 24, 2013


I have a few pet peeves when it comes to nursing home life.

Okay, maybe more than a few. :)

Often, I overhear the aides saying, "Jones want to get up for lunch."

"Jones" is Annie Jones. (not a real name). But the aides often refer to patients by their last names. I respond, "I prefer that you call me Darlene. I will accept Mrs. Franklin. But please don't call me 'Franklin.' I am not now nor was I ever a female version of my (ex) husband."

The issue is: See me as a person. Not as a last name (or even worse, in hospitals, as room numbers) At worst we should have a cordial working relationship and at best, we can be friends.

This week I have received a few reminders that respect runs both ways..

How about the time I hollered an after-thought to my request for aide out the door. The nurse passing by asked, "how about a please?"

Oh. Duh.

Or the morning I screamed in the shower--throwing a toddler-like fit--that they shouldn't ask me to walk on the wet floor. This aide does everything she can to make me comfortable. After I finished my fit, she asked, in her broken English (she speaks about a little more English than I do Spanish): "Do you not want me to be your aide any more?" And the next day she asked someone else to help me. We worked it out.

Today was another one of those times. I watched the clock go past eight (when my meds are scheduled). . .past nine (the legal deadline for delivery for meds scheduled at 8) . . .until nearly 10. I prepared to confront Janie.

When she walked through my door, I gave her a piece of my mind. She looked ready to cry, mumbled some kind of excuse, and left the blood pressure cuff on my wrist while she counted out my meds.

While I waited, I realized that I had overlooked the person behind the job. I hadn't greeted her, hadn't asked after her health, or made any friendly gestures before launching into my tirade.

When she came back in, bearing gifts of pain killers and cough syrups and other such wonder pills, I said, "let's start the morning over. How are you today?" We affirmed our friendship for each other.

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Even in--especially in--a nursing home.

Most of the aides get it.

It's time I got it, too.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


This week I faced a crisis in conscience.

I was asked if any of the staff had ever made any sexually inappropriate comments to me.

My mind flew to one individual. I associate "sexually inappropriate" with rude and crude. He is anything but. He is funny, quick-witted, always cheerful, in a good mood, and willing to help.

But his tongue gets the better of him sometimes. I have, in fact, told him on more than one occasion, "That kind of remark could get you into trouble."

I guess it did. Someone else reported it, and the staff was asking others for corroboration of her story. (I assume it's the same individual. They don't say, but he's no longer here so I put two and two together.)

At first I said, "No." I justified my answer partly because I can't remember the last time he said something like that or when he said it.

But overnight I wrestled with the question. I had lied, because I like this person, and because he's good at his job.

And just the same as I shouldn't report someone only because I don't like them, I shouldn't let my affection stop me from reporting wrong behavior.

Worse than that, I realized, my silence was the same as enabling an alcoholic to drink.

And perhaps worst of all, my silence hurt my fellow resident (identity also unknown.) Being a known troublemaker (I suspect I also know the identity, but not quite as certain) doesn't mean her rights should be violated.

I did what I felt was right and, as a result, lost one of the highlights of my days.