The Knee Bone's Connected To ...

Such a face! Daddy Bones@ age 12, gracing the book's cover.


 How to Keep Your Sanity Intact When a Loved One Needs a Nursing Home  

It’s estimated that more than 50 million people provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year.

Studies show that extremely stressed caregivers can age or die prematurely. 

“Bette Davis said ‘old age is no place for sissies,’ but caring for an older loved one isn’t for the feint of heart, either,” says Bones. “I loved my dad and we were very close, but the strain of ‘putting’ him in a nursing home was so overwhelming for all of us that I felt like I was on the edge of a nervous breakdown.”

Becoming aware of some of the don’ts” of long-term care can make daily life easier for nursing home residents and for their family caretakers,” she notes.

Bones offers some key examples from her Nursing Home Checklist:

· Ask clergy, family, and friends - especially those in the health care field - to recommend outstanding nursing homes.

· When touring a nursing home, ask other visitors for frank feedback about the facility. Don’t just inspect the “sample” room, look into residents’ rooms to check for cleanliness.

· Assure your loved one that you will be their ongoing advocate.

· Visit your loved one often and at varying times of the day - and night. This alerts all of the caregivers that you are keeping an eye on your loved one.

· Get to know the staff, especially your loved one’s immediate caregivers.

· Thank the employees for the thankless job that they do.

· Put your loved one’s name on all their belongings, including clothes and personal products. Never leave money or valuables in their room.

· Place a quilt, photos and other small touches to create a “homey” room.

· Put a brief bio and picture of your loved one at the entrance of their room to “introduce” them to staff and visitors.

. Bring old photos when you visit your loved one - it will give you something to look at if conversation lags.

. Bring different edible treats to spice-up the resident's menu.





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I hate January.

And it's not because of the icy weather or the post-holiday blues (OK, I admit, a reindeer-less living room is somewhat depressing).

No, it's because every year at this time I visit my dermatologist so he can count the brown spots on my body to verify that the number has not yet exceeded 10,000.

This year, to jazz up our annual tete a tete, he brought two medical students into the examination room with him.

Perfect, I thought, the gang's all here to behold me like a stuffed buffalo in the Academy of Natural Sciences.

You could tell instantly that the two twenty-something trainees were fresh from the classroom, still dazzled by Power Point presentations about impetigo and surface dermatitis. One student was a lovely young woman of Asian descent whose skin looked like delicate porcelain china, completely untouched by the sun's wretched rays; the other was a young man who seemed nice but vaguely uncomfy with the topics of basal cells or lesions.

So I sat shivering in my undies and paper-thin hospital thingy (I refuse to call it a gown; it's nothing like a gown, more like a tattered old house dress that your grandmother wore in 1962), while the two of them, and a nurse thrown in for good measure, observed carefully as the doc touched and inspected my external being, inch after humiliating inch, for signs of age marks gone wild, sun spots run amok.

As the doctor opened my flimsy garment to peruse parts of my structure that I prayed no human being would ever see after I turned 50, he summoned the two students to snuggle in for a closer look as he explained, "See, this is all from sun exposure." As opposed to what, I thought, too many moonbeams?

And I wondered if the pair of students were at that very moment considering leaving the medical profession or at least switching their speciality to something like research pathology, anything that did not require the minute investigation of acres and acres of live but thoroughly damaged skin.

When the doctor asked me to flip over on my stomach so he could review my other side for more possible disturbances, I contemplated whether I'd rather perish from epidermis horriblis than undergo another semi-naked head-to-toe examination.

But revealing my hinder side was not even the tip of my mortification, for the best was yet to come: the annual burning off of actual flesh with liquid nitrogen, a process known as cryotherapy, an incredibly cruel and somewhat painful method of melting away the facial marks that no amount of caked-on Cover Girl could ever conceal.

As my skin singed and I emitted a whimper of distress, I looked at the medical clan peering intently at my mug and had an eerie vision of myself lounging on an Ocean City beach in 1970, blissfully unaware of the misery, not to mention shock and awe, it would produce four decades later.

Finally, it was all over.

I bid the medical crowd adieu, went home, looked in the mirror and noticed the post-cyrotherapy blisters that were already forming on my ravaged face.  

Ahh, hunker down, kids, that's a sure sign that it's definitely January.

Happy 2013 everybody!

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