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."




"How do you spell it?" we used to ask our Mom when we were forming a word but weren't quite sure if it was correct.

"Look it up," was her prompt and consistent reply.

It was an effective means of getting our lazy butts to use the dictionary (and now that I reflect on these touching family moments, it occurs to me that maybe dear old Marie didn't quite know how to spell the word, either...brilliant strategy!).

At any rate, I think "looking it up" has gone the way of typewriter ribbons and natural family planning. Thanks to spellcheck and Twitter, who needs to spell? Add to that the purposeful misspelling of popular movies - the latest, "Inglourious Basterds" and before that, "Pursuit of Happyness" - and you have grammarians who are fanning themselves with their Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary to keep from pasing out.

And it's not only words, it's punctuation, too. In England, the city of London recently decided to drop apostrophes from all its street signs, saying they were confusing and old-fashioned.

In my neck of the woods, spelling errors abound in public places. When I told a Postal employee that there was a mistake on a sign in the post office, she crisply informed me that someone "must have stolen the letters." Oh. My bad...

Don't get me wrong, I speak as one who has been struggled mightily with spelling my entire life. I recently published a book and a good friend noted five errors in its 200+ pages. I almost wept when she told me about the typos that persisted even after I edited, rewrote and polished the entire tome at least 20 times.

So I don't point a finger, I just offer empathy, ask you to set a good example for the youngsters and provide this humble advice from Mommy Bones: when in doubt, look it up. And that counts for all you movie directors, too. Quentin, are ya listening?


Shut Yer Pie Hole

Scene: 8 am, this morning, walking the dog along a main road around the corner from my house. Various pieces of litter - my Achilles' Heel, the swift sword through my soul - are strewn along the sidewalk.

Main Characters: Me, Sammy the Dog and some guy who lives on the main street.

(Me, noticing the long trail of litter, muttering to myself): What is wrong with people? Don't they see this in front of their own homes, day after day? It's revolting...

(Suddenly, a man emerges from a door of one of the houses. Unable to bottle-up my angst, I spill.)

(Me to man): Cripes, doesn't anybody ever sweep around here? Look at this!

(Man, shrugging shoulders): It's overflow from the trash can at the corner...

(Me): Be that as it may, can't ya just get out a broom every once in a while?

(Man): I'd hafta be out here every day...

(Me): So? I sweep-up other people's litter every day...

(Man) Yeah, well, the street sweeper guy with the little machine comes by here a lot.

(Me): Dude, that guy doesn't come this way often, we're lucky if he cleans here once every few weeks. We just have to do it ourselves.

(Man, as he lights a ciggie): Yeah, well maybe you have the time, but I don't.

(Me, voice rising): Yeah, well maybe you could manage it while you're out here puffing away, you know, broom in one hand, smokes in the other...

(Man): Get a life, lady...

(Me): Get a job, pal... (NOTE: I've been borrowing that line from my brother-in-law for years now. Need to discard it because, with the recession in full bloom, people do not respond well to it. About 20 years ago, I used the same line with two women who were yelling at me for taking a parking space they wanted. They freaked when I advised them to 'get a job.' I skedaddled, but think if they had gotten their hands on me, I would have been throttled.)

Proceed to amble along more quickly because man is ranting something about his job or lack thereof. Feel shaken by my outburst and not a morsel of litter has been removed. Must learn to simply pick up litter silently and shut my big fat mouth.

Sammy agrees.

Fade to black and proceed to really try, as Mr. Ain't-My-Litter suggested, to go out and get myself a life.



Never take candy from a stranger, right?
How about from a phone company?

In my neighborhood, there is a cell phone shop (one of many) with the predictable ugly, block-lettered signs on its storefront window: "UNLIMITED MINUTES!" "LEARN ABOUT OUR SPECIAL PROMOTIONS!" "ONLY TWO STUDENTS ALLOWED AT A TIME." (Why? Are they afraid of crowds of unruly hooligans storming the joint after school to grab that tantalizing text message offer?) But along with these signs, what really stood out was one that proclaimed "CANDY- 85 CENTS" and was highlighted with crude graphics of Skittles, Snickers and other well known candy bars.

So what marketing genius was sitting around, brainstorming about how to attract cell-phone loving youngsters, and suddenly thought: "I know how to grab their attention - CANDY! It works every time!"

Yes, that's right, folks, they're what you call a full-service store - they sell cell phones and candy! Bill Gates, you certainly have created some clever ideas in the business world, but wait until you hear this one!

Personally, I  think the whole idea sounds suspect at best.

So kids, remember what your mama told you and avoid strangers with candy.

However, if you are too weak to resist the lure of inexpensive sweets, remember: candy causes cavities and only two students allowed at a time.



With Apologies to George Hamilton...

It happened at the beginning of every summer.

My sisters and I, ashamed of our "shoobie" winter whiteness, longed to "get some color." We'd wait for the first sunny day, apply gobs of baby oil on our skin to attract the rays and before nightfall we'd have ourselves a nice case of sun poisoning. I'm not talking about a little sunburn, I mean honest to goodness, slap-your-mama sun poisoning with burnt skin, puffy eyes and an overall body ache that would render us motionless for days. 

Flip forward a few decades and I have wretched proof of that sun exposure: arms and legs with so many brown spots that they look like polka-dotted limbs and "age spots" on my face that have to be burned off by a vigilant dermatologist.  

I think of my polka dots when I see the young girls and women who are packed in the waiting room of the local tanning salon, especially during prom season. Under the assumption that tanning beds are a "safer" means of developing a glow, these ladies flock to the place and emerge with a color that seems awkward, artificial.

Recently, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a unit of the World Health Organization, put tanning beds on its carcinogenic list. The medical journal The Lancet Oncology, reported that using tanning devices before the age of 30 increases skin melanoma risk 75 percent. And, I'm sure no thanks to the increase in tanning beds, the CDC says that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.

Thems is some scary numbers, ladies.

But if that info isn't enough to run you out of the tanning salon, make a list of five famous women whom you consider gorgeous. Then take a look at their skin. Do they look they have been frying in a tanning bed? Not a chance.

And if you need further proof that a tanning bed is a no-no and a premature wrinkle-maker, feel free to take a look at my polka dots. (Or just watch the movie "Something About Mary" and pay attention to the neighbor - you know which lady I mean!) Then grab an SPF 45, love yourself for what you are, tell skin cancer to fughetaboutit and call it a day!



My darling spouse tries the same trick as Sarah Palin: sometimes he nonchalantly pronounces a statement so confusingly absurd that for a moment I think he's making perfect sense until it hits me - he's full of malarkey and hoping I won't notice.

He must have given Palin lessons.

When I listen to excerpts of her speeches, like the one during her resignation as Alaska's governor, my initial reaction is "HUH?" I often fail to unravel any logic in her thought process, despite the fact that English is indeed my first language. My eighth grade nun, who spent an entire school year teaching us how to properly construct and diagram sentences, must be wincing in her grave. (If she is in fact dead, which she probably is because a class of 50 hormone-rich 14-year-olds who couldn't care less about proper sentence structure is enough to drive anyone to a premature demise.) For example, Palin's recent plea that media stop their infernal lying "in honor of the American soldier" seems convoluted, sketchy, and a little like something your wacky Aunt Martha might say after a few Manhattans.

But despite her communication failings, she sure does a bang up job at building drama. Days of Our Lives could learn a trick or two from Palin - she knows drama!

She also knows how to protect her offspring like a mother bulldog, so I will say nary a word about the kids. But may I say a utter a "tsk tsk" regarding her husband? He's a grownup, no? Then why doesn't he dress like one? During his wife's recent gosh-darn-it resignation festivities, she was resplendent in an I'm-outta-here business suit while he was sat on stage sporting jeans and a parka-type vest. It was disappointing, to say the least. I feel just as disgruntled when I see people wearing shorts and a T-shirt to a funeral. (My humble theory is if the deceased can dress appropriately for the burial, so can the mourners.)

Yes, yes, I realize that I'm ranting a bit, but have I made my thoughts about direct sentences and dressing-for-success clear? Good. Try it some time, Sarah - ya'll might like it.