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."



Yo, Dollface...

So here's the quandary: My best pal is miffed because some middle-aged sales guy in a furniture store addressed her first as "hon" and then as "sweetie." (If you have ever stepped into a furniture store, you know that the salespeople in these places are specially trained to hunt you down and hold on to you with the persistence of a cheerleader looking for a suitable quarterback to take to Homecoming.)

She didn't mind his basic sales rap, but the unexpected terms of endearment had "buddy, you just lost a sale" written all over it.

I know what she means. Over the phone, a customer service guy once tried to calm me down by saying, "OK, dear..."

I took "OK, dear" as the equivalent of "Now get a hold of yourself, Granny" and icily informed him that it would be best for everyone if he refrained from addressing me as if I went to school with Mamie Eisenhower.

It reminds me of an older in-law who I took to dinner one evening at a lovely restaurant. She did not enjoy the familiarity displayed by our sixty-something waitress who addressed us as "luv" and "honey." I'm used to the Philly favorites - "hon" and "youse" - and didn't even notice her catch phrases. "She acts as if she knows us," my in-law noted disdainfully. Me? I'll take the love-bug waitress over the server who never looks you in the eye while reciting "a gluten-free salmon steak served with a wisp of wasabi glaze and a cornucopia of twice-baked carrots and confetti snow peas" in a strained monotone.

Ironically, my bud who was annoyed by the creepy furniture man often uses monikers such as "sis" and "doll" when chatting with me, as in "where's that fifty bucks you owe me, sis" or "OK, doll, you gotta do something about that wardrobe of yours."

But we've known each other since the first moon landing. The furniture dude? He's a newbie and shouldn't take such liberties. It's OK for my sweetie to call me "sweetie" and your mom to call you "hon" but folks need to know where to draw the affectionate line.

But then again, after being greeted once too often with "bee-ach" or, "hey, *!#hole" maybe a salutation of, "greetings, pumpkin!" isn't so bad after all.

You know what I mean, snookums?




"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!