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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Buck Up, Comrades!

Recently, I saw a news photo of 52 passengers from a Russian research ship that was marooned by a humongous iceberg in Antarctica.

Amazingly, these voyagers were linking arms and gleefully marching across a stretch of ice next to their immobile vessel, and I thought: "Why can't I be more like those happy-go-lucky castaways?"

The group looked like a bundled-up Broadway chorus line or the Von Trapp family, climbing every mountain, except that they were in one of the coldest spots on earth. They had been stranded for more than a week because the ice had looked at them, laughed, and said: "You ain't going nowhere, suckers."  

Of course, turns out that this bunch of stalwarts weren't just taking a brisk walk in frigid temps, they were smoothing out snow with their feet so that a helicopter could land on even ground to rescue them.

But the fact that they performed their task with a smile was amazing. Not even specially-designed ice breaking ships could reach them - thus the need for their eventual escape by aircraft – but the passengers seemed to make the best of their sorry situation. Me, I would have been asking for the manager, a hot toddy and a refund.

You see, here in Philly, we are not exactly hardy when it comes to weather emergencies. In fact, we're exhausted after enduring about a dozen snowstorms this winter.

Back in December, when an unexpected blizzard swept through town, we were elated at the beauty the sudden, pristine snow.

Since that event, not to mention another 70-plus inches of snow, the polar vortex honeymoon is over.

Last Saturday morning, I almost threw in the snow shovel. I was headed out for an overnight winter adventure at the Jersey shore, only to find that my car was being devoured by an ice and snow shelf. Almost on cue, a snow squall started to fall as my arthritic hands made a minimal dent in the gargantuan snow mound and I salted the perimeter of the vehicle with my tears.

I was just about to give up, when along came a young man who volunteered to help. He shoveled, salted and pushed my car for 15 minutes. Then another young guy walked by and offered to pitch in. Before long, my two snow angels had rocked my tiny auto back and forth until the wheels stopped spinning and it broke free of its frozen enclave.  

The kindness of the two young strangers gave me hope that perhaps the winter of our discontent had not completely hardened everyone.

Of course, I don't think I'll ever be as upbeat as the passengers on the frozen Russian ship. Grabbing my neighbors and walking cheerfully arm-in-arm down our street, pounding on the accumulated flurries with our tootsies to make the roadway safer for kids, dogs and the elderly just ain't in our Philly future.  

But I promise this: I’ll try to stop complaining about the !*#! weather and toast to my pair of unexpected Knights in Puffy-Coated Armor... at least until that first God-awful heat wave hits.  











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