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."



(Lotsa) Child's Play

Boo hiss on the morons who gave the visiting campers the evil eye at the swim club outside of Philadelphia. Where do they think they are, in the cast of Stepford Wives? Imbeciles. No excuse for their bigotry. But I think there is one factor that people seem to have overlooked in this case: 60+ kids. Have you been around a crowd of 60 kids lately? God love them and all, but 60 kids together at camp can make some noise. Do you remember being at camp as a kid? You're with your buddies and your parents aren't around and you're revved-up for fun - loud fun! So if you're lounging at your pool and 60 kids come in with eight camp counselors, you're gonna notice. If those kids are white, black, brown, green, striped or polka-dotted, you're probably going to say to yourself, "Uh, oh, there goes my quiet time" - or that's what I'd think. Keep in mind that I love kids and I was, for a brief period of time, a kid myself, so it's nothing personal. It's just that 60 kids reminds me of my crowded grade school class where 50 or more young students were squeezed into one classroom - it was a kid-concentrated mass that eventually sent more than one nun to a "rest home." So let's say it once again, those people who looked at the campers in horror because of the color of their skin, get off your racist horse and join the 21st century. To the moron manager who agreed to let 60 extra kids in the pool, where was your brain? Kids, gotta love 'em, just don't want to spend a summer afternoon with five dozen of them.


Heaven, I'm in Heaven...

I have two words for you this week: Gerard Butler.

Saw him in a Scottish DVD "Dear Frankie" in which he was simply spellbinding (as was everyone else in the cast).

Turns out he was also in some movies I'll probably never see ("3000") and some I loved ("Mrs. Brown") and this summer he'll appear in a new release, "The Ugly Truth" with Katherine Heigl. They are advertising this film on television commercials every eight minutes or so, which my sister says is a sure fire means of predicting that it will be a stinker. But don't you see? I don't care if it's rubbish. I'm going anyway. Why? I told you, two very appealing words: Gerard Butler.


The Mean Lady's Elbow

It's my birthday and I'm sitting with hubby in an outdoor music center after a picnic dinner, awaiting an evening concert by the world famous Philadelphia Orchestra. Two little girls are running down one of the aisles when a woman in the row in front of them turns in her seat and screams, "no running!" Does she know those kids, we wonder? It doesn't appear so. Wow, that takes nerve. Maybe she's a playground monitor or a lifeguard who is programmed to say that famous phrase. But this is an open-air venue and the concert hasn't even started, so talking, laughing and yes, even running, are completely appropriate. Oh well. In a few minutes, the two girls return and they are running again, as kids are apt to do. Mean Lady spots them, scowls and, just as the girls approach her seat, she throws an elbow timed to hit the youngsters. Hubby Dave and I look at each other as if to say, "Did you see that?" Meanest Lady Alive could have really hurt those little kids, but the girls just shake it off - maybe they can't believe the old battleaxe really meant them harm - and continue running toward their family. For the rest of the night, Dave and I can't get over Mean Lady's actions. Throughout the concert, she refrains from physically assaulting anyone else, but directs her evil eye at whomever in the audience dares to displease her - coughers, antsy children, people who dare to breathe.

My birthday wish that night? That I avoid morphing into Mean Lady some day - and keep my stinkin' elbows to myself.


As the Crab Flies...

So there we are at the Jersey shore, in beautiful downtown Margate with our 89-year-old friend Mary. We are on a mini-boardwalk area that extends out over the bay as the five-o'clock sunlight paints the view with a serene loveliness. Suddenly, a huge seagull flies above us. Hey, does it have something in it's mouth? Something big? Something struggling? Holy Toledo, it's a crab. The gull circles around and lands behind us on the strip of boardwalk, dropping the crab and then pecking at it pleasurably. The crab darts to the left, only to be jabbed by the gull's sharp beak. Then it darts to the right, dodging fruitlessly. Again, the gull goes in for the kill. We three witness the whole shebang, crab shred by crab shred. We can't go anywhere, with the gull blocking our path, so we have to witness the death dance of the crab, literally on its last legs. Finally, when the crab is a goner and the gull flies away - burping? - I promptly exit, tip-toeing past the leftovers, shook-up by the brutality. Hubby say no big deal, it's just Wild Kingdom at its finest, but I didn't watch that show when it was on TV and I certainly don't want to see it up close and personal on a perfectly wonderful summer day. Mary? She is unfazed, a survivor. Why am I so freaked? I don't know, forgive the maudlin attitude, but it's been a weird week, with all the Farrah, Michael and Billy Mays news. It just makes me think - you never know when a seagull or its equivalent is going to swoop you up. In the meantime, guess we just have to be kind, have fun and live it up.


In Praise of Fathers (on the Day After Father's Day)

When I read about a new invention, a plastic ice tray that makes elongated ice cubes that fit nicely into a water bottle, all I could think was, “Dad would have loved this.”

Anything that sliced, diced or came with 12 extra components and included a free gift was simply irresistible for my Dad. And he could never just buy one item; he’d have to buy three more, one for me and for each of my two sisters. Ironically, although he never cooked actual meals, culinary accoutrements held a special appeal, as did the cookbooks, cooking magazines and cooking utensils that jammed every drawer in his kitchen.

As the oldest of eight children, the son of a Philly beat cop and a homemaker, my Dad never had much as a kid and, as an adult, seemed determined to compensate for that. It wasn’t the latest model car or fine clothes that he lusted after; it was just “stuff.”

After my Mom died, his buying habits intensified. If you mentioned that you liked a certain type of shampoo, he’d purchase a decade supply’s worth. If he saw an offer for knickknacks in three easy payments, he’d snatch up several to distribute to his “girls.” In Daddy Bones’ mind, there was no use enjoying a great find if he couldn’t share it with his children. He lived according to the old Irish saying, “May your giving hand never fail.”

Of course, my Dad’s generosity was not endless. When I told my parents that I was considering graduate school, my Dad, who had paid for my college tuition in full, boomed, “That’s terrific, honey, I sure hope you can find a way to finance it.”

The giving hand, apparently, had its limits.

But his giving heart knew no bounds.

If your tire went flat, if you received a letter from the IRS, if a blind date turned out to be a world-class schmuck, my Dad was there to help or sympathize or philosophize by saying, “If this is the worst thing that happens, you’ll be doing good.”

When my brother was diagnosed with AIDS in 1987, at a time when a frightened world shunned people with HIV, my Dad and Mom embraced their son and cared for him in their home until he died. Weeks after Tommy passed, when my parents were out to dinner with some friends, an acquaintance of the group made an AIDS joke. Everyone froze, but instead of causing a stir, my Dad just put his arm around the man, took him aside and quietly told him about his late son. Class act.

An accountant who looked like a leprechaun and a lover of good stories and long jokes, my Dad gradually turned more cantankerous as he aged. After he became frail and sickly, however, he still managed to maintain his fatherly stance. Whenever I’d prepare to depart after a visit to his nursing home, he’d take my hand, kiss it like a knight in the queen’s court, and advise me to get on my way. A gentleman to the end.

Dad is no longer here to purchase any must-have oblong ice cube trays, but like any good father, his legacy of love and unselfishness endures and I think of him often – especially around Father's Day and particularly when I hear those infamous words, “Only $19.99, but that’s not all!”