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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Yo.....Welcome to the Bonesblog of Diane Bones. I am a freelance writer specializing in feature articles. I also teach a Humor Writing course at Temple University. See Bonesbio for more.

Check out my new book, Tea, Sticky Buns and the Body of Christ (Postscripts From a Nursing Home), a memoir of the year I spent with my Dad before he died. Watch as my family and I laugh, cry and crumble as we become the raw meat of the "sandwich generation."



Are You Kidding Me?

Everybody seems so young to me these days.

When my hubby watched the National Hockey League draft, I saw some of the guys who had been chosen in the first round and asked, "How old are those kids?    

Some of them looked like they were about about to become Eagle Scouts and if any one of them challenged me to a wrestling match, I actually think I'd win. They hardly looked like professional athletes, more like second stringers for the high school cheerleading squad. 

But what do I know about youth?

I think people are still babies when they're 25.

The Miss America organization does not agree. According to the official pageant rules, if you want to become Miss America - and who doesn't? - you must be between the ages of 17 and 24. Unfortunately, a lovely young 24-year-old woman who was recently crowned Miss Delaware was dethroned when it became known that she'll turn 25 - oh, the humanity! - before the end of the year, making her ineligible to stroll the runway.

Ouch, that had to hurt, having her rhinestone hopes and dreams dashed at the quarter-century mark. Time to head home and start eating grains and carbohydrates again!

The irony is that so many of the super-dolled-up Miss America contestants look like they are well into their forties. Glazed-on hairspray, pancake foundation and gowns from the Lawrence Welk Show will do that to a gal.

The good news is that even though the almost-Miss Delaware was stripped of her title and ineligible to run for the Miss America crown, the Age Police said she could keep her $9,000 scholarship. Yipee, that'll pay for about one credit, thanks loads, folks. I may be old, but at least I'll be ed-gee-cated!

But you don't have to be old to think everybody looks young. When you're 28, college students seem downright infantile; when you're middle-aged, you can't believe that the IRS agent looks exactly like that kid you used to babysit; and when you're past 50, you think that everyone under 50 positively radiates with a youthful glow. I gaze at old photos of my younger, leaner self and want to scream, "If you thought you were chunky then, sister, have I got a big fat surprise for you..."

Last week, a friend left a PEOPLE magazine in my door. The publication had two young "stars" on the cover, over which my friend had scrawled "Who ARE these people?" So not only do all the celebrities seem inexplicably young, we are approaching the age when we don't even recognize their apparent fame. 

Oh, well, I can't help it if athletes, movie stars and the guy who pumped my gas last week (he looked like a high school sophomore but then I heard him talking about his three kids) project such a youthful appearance.

I just wish to God they'd all stop helping me across the street and calling me, "Ma'am."  



Why don't they just flog her on the town square?

Ellen Degeneres, that is.

Parents at a suburban Philadelphia Catholic elementary school freaked out because Ellen DeGeneres' photo appeared on an invitation for an Oscar-themed graduation dance at their kids' school.

Because Ellen hosted the Academy Awards this year, it seemed like a natural fit for the invite, but some parents with waaaaaay too much time on their hands saw red when they noticed the celeb's mug. To assuage them, the school principal emailed all of the parents to apologize for featuring someone who "lives her life outside the teachings of the Catholic Church." She also asked for a return of the invitations so they could be "destroyed." Yeah, burn 'em at the stake for corrupting those poor kids! One look at Ellen's pantsuit and they'll start marathon-watching WILL AND GRACE reruns.  

My uneducated guess is that the kerfuffle was caused by just a few crabapples who feel that America is becoming a bit too "accepting" for its own good. They want to send a message to everyone - including any kids in the school who are gay or have a gay family member - that even a reference to a homosexual is repugnant, the finest in Fear and Loathing, circa 2014.     

After all, the Pope himself has already sent the message to ease up on the holier-than-thou bandwagon. If he professes "Who am I to judge?" in regard to gay people, then maybe the Catholic school parents should take note. We're not talking about sponsoring a Johnny Weir fan club, for God's sake.

So calm down, everyone. Remember the words my first grade nun taught me: "God is love." She didn't say "God is hate or fear or judgement or mean-spiritedness."

Yes, it makes sense to protect your children, so don't idolize athletes who murder or business executives who swindle or community leaders who deceive or clergy who molest.

However, if a well-respected and non-incarcerated celebrity who also is gay appears on a school invitation, don't shine a spotlight on your deep prejudices.

Instead of public flagellation, keep your big trap shut and show your child that, like all people of deep faith, you love and respect others, even the ones who - in your opinion - aren't nearly as perfect as you are.  



- LET'S SEE IF WE CAN SCREW THIS UP EVEN MORE. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia ended a 2006 program in which they provided parochial school tuition to the children of clergy sex-abuse victims. What, were they vying to win first prize for THE worst public relations move of the 21st century? Only six victims' families have benefited from the tuition assistance and some of those who were abused say that they weren't even aware of the program. The real story? The victims would probably rather send their kids to clown school. Your Eminence, think of another way to say "We're sorry" and do it FAST.

- YOU SAID IT, SISTER. The world's oldest person, Missao Ohkawa, recently turned 116. When asked if she was happy to have lived so long, the birthday gal replied, "Kind of." Ya gotta love that answer! "Yes, I'm ecstatic that I haven't died, but darn it, even my grandkids are starting to kick the bucket - it's getting weird." 
- KEEP THAT DASHING SCARF AT HOME, PAL. Organizers of the Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade allowed gay military veterans to march a few weeks ago, but they would not let them hold signs or wear clothes that referred to their sexual orientation. Wow, imagine the poor guy who had to monitor those strict fashion restrictions during the parade - I can just hear him on his official walkie-talkie: "Uh, this is O'Connell, over and out, we have a situation here, a vet wearing kitten heels, can you send some backup, pronto? Over and very much out."
- IF THE BOOK FITS. Sarah Palin read a parody based on the Dr. Suess book, "Green Eggs and Ham" to express her thoughts to an audience at a Conservative Political Action Conference. Glad to know that the former VP candidate has buckled down and decided to graduate from the newspapers and magazines that Katie Couric quizzed her about to an actual book. Progress, Sarah! 

 - HAIR YE, HAIR YE. There were news reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was forcing male university students to cut their hair like his weirdly buzzed do, but it was just a rumor. Good news, because "Dear Leader," as Kim is called, is not exactly a GQ cover boy. Back in 2005, however, the government did make a proclamation about hair, saying that long locks on men affected brain activity by taking oxygen away from nerves in the head. (They did allow exemptions for longer hair on men who favored the internationally loathed comb-over style.) So Dennis Rodman, make sure your head is appropriately coiffed before you make another buddy visit to your dear friend and style icon, Dear Leader.  

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.  













DENIAL: OK, all I have to do is push "print" and I can finally wrap up this nightmare of a writing project - it was a doozy. But why don't I hear the whirl of the document being printed? What the #!*! is wrong with this thing - it can't possibly be broken, I just printed something two minutes ago. A machine cannot work fine one second and magically break down the next. Can it? Did some mysteriously destructive molecule invade the plastic edges of the device while I sat, unsuspecting, at my desk? Maybe if I just turn off the printer and then switch it on again it will kick back up - that seems to work just dandy with my Yugo. Or better yet, I'll shut-off the electricity to the whole house - yeah, that should shock this darn printer back into action, although those steaks in the refrig might take a beating...   

ANGER: Still no luck. I just know some evil genius specifically programs these printers to go on the fritz knowing that I can't possibly work without one and will be forced to replace it, even though this month's MasterCard has a mammoth vet bill for overpriced dog meds, not to mention a brunch or three. And this piece-of-crap machine is only about a year old, which I can absolutely prove once I find the receipt, which I can't because I'm too busy shutting my office windows so I can crazy curse without alarming the neighbors.     

BARGAINING: Ok, girl, compose yourself and Google some info about how to fix a printer. See, you are not alone, there are 2754 postings about easy repairs for broken printers, albeit most of them written in a language that only Ph.D.s in information technology could possibly comprehend. Do I know anything about a system restore, browsers or serial numbers? I do not. So I call my niece, who is besties with a computer guy. After describing my printer dilemma to him, he finally offers some advice in plain English: "Get a shotgun." I'm not sure if he means for me or the printer, but either way, it doesn't look good.  

DEPRESSION: My life sucks and so does this freakin' machine. I may as well give up my job and become a full-fledged recluse because nothing technological ever runs smoothly for poor me.  

ACCEPTANCE: Hello, Giant Office Supply store, I'm here to purchase a new printer and would like to speak with your most knowledgeable expert. Oh, um, hi Brody. Wow, you sure look youthful - how's your sophomore year in high school going? I'm in the market for a reliable printer that's reasonably priced. Oh, you have one on sale for only $49.99? That's certainly affordable. But the printer cartridges are how much? For black and color, $127.50? Looks like the pup won't be getting her cholesterol medication this month. Oh well, what can I do? Time to take this new model home and power her up. But oh dear sweet Lord, is that my laptop screen blinking erratically? Nooooooooooooo! Honestly, that damned thing is practically brand new and it was working PERFECTLY when I left an hour ago ...