elder care, elderly, life, mental health, mental illness, poetry

To My Nurses ….a poem about elder care and dementia

** this poem is written from the point of view of a nursing home resident as I have observed that they feel from my many years of working and volunteering  in nursing homes

TO MY NURSES…

Just because I am old

Does not mean I should be discarded…

I was young like you once

Full of life and very big hearted

I raises my babies,  just like you do

I loved my husband and drove a car

I had a beautiful house 

that I took care of with love

I baked Christmas cookies

and knitted my grandchildren gloves.

I bet you don’t know,  but I worked really hard…

I struggled and fought for my family

I felt things very deeply and cared very much

I had family and friends whose lives that I touched…

I once was important and had a real life

Just like you do… and you never think 

That your life will pass away just like mine did

You’ll end up with nothing you worked for, in the end

You’ll lose your driver’s license 

and your favorite car too

You’ll lose your independence

and people’s respect …

You’ll watch your spouse die and miss him forever

You’ll dread the phone ringing

because more and more family dies

But you might keep going, on with your life

Even though there is nothing left that matters…

You will not understand why God makes you stay

and does not take you home 

to heaven 

to be with your loved ones…

The only people you will have to talk to at all

will be the nurses in the nursing home 

and the patients that do not remember your name…

So, please have compassion for me and be patient

Because someday it could be you in my place

All the power you feel now 

and the things that you love

and the ability to make choices about your day

Could be taken away, never to be seen again

and the life that you once thought was yours

will become a sad memory

that no one wants to listen to…

Not even the nurses that will take care of you

cats, compassion, kindness, life, mental health, pets, relationships

How Bootsie the Cat Reminded me That Time is Precious

One of my favorite older ladies that I take care of at work came back from the hospital a few days ago. This was the first time I had had a chance to see her, since she came home.  She was out for almost a month.

For this post I will call her Lucy.  (That   “had had”  looks wrong doesn’t it? but I think it is correct…)

Lucy has a beautiful multi-colored cat. His name is Bootsie, because he has white feet that stand out against the other brownish colors on his legs.

He is usually independent  and not overly cuddly.  He will come up to give me a quick hello, and then he will go and get on with his kitty cat business.

Lucy always told me that Bootsie slept in his cat bed on the floor and seldom slept in the bed with her. She wanted him to sleep on the bed, but he would come up for a goodnight petting, and then wisk himself away to his kitty bed.

Well, while Lucy was out, we were all taking turns to feed Bootsie and make sure he had water. I know the other nurses and aides were feeding him, but most of them were not really petting or visiting with him. Poor Bootsie…

Whenever I had that floor as my assignment, I always went in to visit with Bootsie. It was clear that he missed having Lucy around, and he was confused and scared about why he was alone all day and all night.

He became more affectionate as te days went on,  and began to brush up against my legs and purr at me. I really tried to make an effort to go visit him and I enjoyed our little quiet visits as well. It got me away from the hustle and bustle of the facility for a few minutes, as I “hid out” in the room with Bootsie.

The other aides were giving him the dry food, but the cans of wet food, were still on the counter. So, I began opening one for him each night when I was working there on that assignment. Sometimes I would go up to that floor, even if I was not assigned there.  i would open his canned food and to sit with him for a few minutes.

Whenever I went to see him, he would come up to me right away and talk to me in his kitty language. He would brush against my legs and let me pet him. I would sit on the kitchen floor and stay with him for 5-10 minutes or whatever I could spare.

Well, I saw Lois today and she was happy to see me. I told her that we had been taking care of Bootsie and she said that she could tell that we had been. She was very thankful for the care that had given her precious treasure.

Then she said to me that there had been a change in Bootsie, since she had come back.  Bootsie, the aloof kitty cat, was now a cuddy and super affectionate kitty cat!  He has slept on her bed every night since Lucy arrived home.

She told me that he laid next to her last night and was touching her face gently, with his paw. He has not left her side since she came home. When she leaves the room to come down for dinner, he runs right up to her when she returns to the room.

It is amazing how much our pets feel for us. They are kind of like people,  in that we take each other for granite until something happens. Then it scares us a little and we realize that the person we love may not always be there.

We suddenly find time, where there was no time before. We realize that it is important to prioritize relationships in our lives. We have people (and pets) in our lives and it is important to show them that we care.

So, I thought this was a sweet story and I was looking forward to coming home tonight to tell you all about it.

Lucy is so happy that she now has a cuddly kitty!

But if Bootsie is anything like people are, the novelty will wear off and he will be back to sleeping in the cat bed again. We will see. Time will tell…

It is a good lesson for us to remember to appreciate the loved ones in our lives and not to take them too much for granite. That goes for our animals as well. It is easy to get busy with life and to overlook times when we do actually  have a moment that we could take for someone else.

There is time to spend together, even if it is in small doses and there is time to let each other know how much we appreciate each other. Even a little extra time with out pet can easily be worked into our schedule.

So, go hug your kids and kiss somebody ! Give your pet a few extra minutes of time. It is good for you as well as for them.

It is not so much that we do not have the time, it is that we forget that time is precious. There is always time for kindness.

adult children of alcoholics, alzheimers disease, mental abuse, mental health, mental illness

Lack of Compassion for Depressed Nursing Home Residents

Something happened at work that really offended and upset me. It is so disgusting that nurses, doctors and other people in the health field are so insensitive and uneducated about mental illness. Health care should be about the whole person and not just their physical body.

We have a resident that lives in this particular facility who suffers from moderate to severe depression , that fluctuates from time to time. Sometimes she is very depressed. When she is in  that downward spiral , she tends to stay in bed. She will still eat if food is brought to her room, but  she does not want to go out to the big dining room and interact with people.

Being an introverted person myself, I can attest to the fact that it is very traumatic, triggering, and extremely anxiety provoking to have to be in a room full of people when you are is a state of depression. You simply cannot do it.

Forcing yourself to go out amongst people who will not understand your mood, is not a good thing to do to your brain. All those people having small talk and asking you “how are you” is like a torture chamber.

So, this sweet little old lady was in a very depressed state today. We will call her Nora. So, i went in to visit Nora at 4pm, when I began my shift.   I could see that she still had her pajamas on and had not been out of bed all day. This is a clear sign that she had spiraled down into a depression state.

She said that she did not feel well and that she did not feel up to coming out to the big room for dinner. I went over the dinner menu with her and together we decided that she would eat scrambled eggs and toast in her room. I then left the room to place her order with the kitchen and requested a tray be brought to her room. The kitchen was no problem.

Then I went back to Nora’s room to let her know that the tray had been ordered. As I opened the door to the room, I saw that my supervisor (the charge nurse) was in the room, speaking with Nora. The supervisor said to me that Nora would have to have a “Sick Tray”.

I learned today that  Sick Tray is a tray that they give to people who have a stomach virus and are too sick to eat a real meal. It is to keep them from vomiting up all of their dinner. You know when you have a tummy sickness, you don’t want to eat .

The Sick Tray consists of hot tea, gingerale  jello, and toast . It is not something that you are supposed to force on someone. It is mainly to make sure that they have something offered to them, even if they say they do not want to eat at all. What it is not , is something to be used to withhold food from someone.

Yes, that is what I said. Withhold food! So sick, isn’t  it ??

This nurse said to me the following, “Nora is not sick. She does this all the time. She is JUST depressed. She is saying she is sick but she is not.  If she is going to stay in bed sick then she gets a Sick Tray.”

I asked her if there was any physical reason Nora could not have the scrambled eggs and toast that she wanted.

The nurse said “NO. But she does this all the time that she refuses to get out of bed. If she is going to fake being sick just because she does not feel like coming out, then she can just have a Sick Tray”

This is punishment. This is a clear punishment of someone because they have a mental health issue. This punishment is unfair and will cause the depression to get worse. Poor Nora was hungry and did want to to eat. She asked for the eggs and there was absolutely no reason she could not have them.

The supervisor was so disgusted by Nora’s continued pattern of depression ans self isolation that she decided to punish her by actually making her go hungry.

I was so upset and angry but there was nothing I could do. i did go back in to the room late in the shift. I won’t say weather ot not I snuck her in a snack. What is your guess? (wink, wink )

But what if I had not been there? This will happen again and again. To make her go hungry and to treat her with such disrespect, is detrimental to her mental health. It further isolates her.

She was willing to have me visit her in the room. The right thing to do would have been to bring her whatever she wanted from te kitchen and for me to sit with her while she ate. Then I could spend some time to talk with her about how she was feeling and she would have at least had a dinner she enjoyed.

What else can I say? I have hundreds of stories like this. I have collected them for 5 years. There is little or o compassion for people with mental illness in these facilities.

There are a lot of elderly people in nursing homes that have severe depression due to the many losses they have experienced. They have lost their home, their spouse, their car, their drivers license, their pets and many of their friends and family have passed away.

it is a very hard time of life and many people end up depressed and isolated, when they become old This is a horrible failure of the health care system and a lack of compassion from health care workers.

More awareness and re-training of the nurses is needed, if people are going to have lives worth living in the long term care facilities.

Blessings,

Annie

health, holidays, life, poem, poetry

It was Wonderful

She smiled at me

And began to talk incessantly

On and on

Of funny things and happy things

Of beauty and love

Of passion and hopefulness

I did not know her

I was a stranger to her

But her heart was full of love and life

She told me she was 95 years young

She held my hand

And told me I was beautiful

She hugged me

And we danced together

We danced right there

In the hallway of the nursing home

I don’t know why

I couldn’t tell he no

She wanted to, and so did I

She twirled around and swayed

She was amazing and wonderful

At 95 years old

She knew what was important

She said to me “We are a bit crazy and fun!”

Yes we were

Dancing in the hallway

She reminded me of what is important

At 95 years old…

She loved life

And for a few precious moments

Dancing with her

To the music in her head

I loved life the way she did

And it was wonderful