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 was waiting for a bus at Broad and Christian Streets in downtown Philly when a woman and her small granddaughter walked up to the transportation shelter, smiled, and asked if I was just at the garden party.

Yes, I was.

The garden party was an end-of-the-year celebration at Mighty Writers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children to think and write clearly. 

It was a delightful outdoor event, held at a community garden across the street from Mighty Writers at 15th and Christian. Kids proudly read their stories and poems, siblings had their faces painted, and parents and volunteers munched on hoagies and drank from a keg of root beer. The skies were cloudy, but no raindrops fell on the parade and a fine time was had by all in a little corner of the world.

While the Grandmom and I chatted at the bus stop, I learned that her granddaughter had only attended Mighty Writers for a few weeks, so she did not have a poem or story to share with the audience. But there were free children's books at the party and the little girl seemed thrilled to bring home two of them, shyly clutching on to them like treasures. 

After the bus arrived, we three boarded and I settled into a back seat so I could read my newspaper. As we headed north on Broad Street, however, I was distracted. What was that lovely sound? It was the Mighty Writers girl, a few rows up, proudly reading one of her books aloud to her Grandmom. 

As the bus wound around City Hall, headed toward the Philadelphia Museum of Art and meandered through North Philly, I continued to hear her read and read and read. It was bliss.

I think her words resonated so strongly because it was the first time I ever heard a child reading on public transportation.

I often see little kids riding on buses, but most often, the youngsters sit stoically while Mommy or Daddy chat on their phone, listen to their music or check their Facebook page. I can't recall seeing a child reading, let alone proudly reciting words out loud to an interested adult. 

When the Grandmom gathered their belongings as their stop approached, I asked her if the child would be returning to Mighty Writers.

"She's moving soon, so, unfortunately, no," the Grandmother replied.

That's too bad, I thought, but hoped her brief Mighty Writers tenure made an impression on her.

On that June night, she certainly left an impression on me. 

And wherever she goes, I hope that wonderful child continues to read, write, learn and inspire with all her might. 






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