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."




Sure, sure, I should be bursting with the spirit of the season, but certain trends have been bothering me mightily. For example:


Yes, I recognize the point of these handy machines: instead of raking your wrists off, you simply transform into a Ghost Busters cast member, plug-in your device and blow those suckers into a handy pile. But don't forget that the next step, people, is to place said pile in a bag for disposal. The nitwit "professional" who "landscapes" the rental house next door to me hasn't quite gotten the hang of the bagging 'em up part. He blows the leaves out onto a big clump on the street, which is a bummer because we have no driveways and folks literally fist fight over parking spots. And after winter officially arrives, street leaves that are covered with snow become positively glue-like mini-mountains of slippery black muck. When I asked Mr. Landscaper if he could sweep up the leaves that he had sent into the street, he said he didn't have a broom. No prob, I'll lend you mine, I replied, but by then, he had jumped into his truck and was speeding away. The second time I asked him about the street leaves, he mentioned it was the Philadelphia Streets Department's responsibility to clean them up. I had a good hearty chuckle over that statement, until I realized that the poor delusional lad was actually serious. At any rate, as I had predicted, the street leaves swiftly made their way to the sidewalk in front of my house (or, as we city folks call it, my "front yard") where my poor, old carpal-tunnel plagued hands had to sweep them all up. Boy, I SURE coulda used a leaf blower...

- NEXT IN LINE PLEASE - Have you ever heard that phrase while you're waiting to check out at a store? If you have, you know what happens next - the young stud behind you time-travels over to the newly opened checkout lane, even though you were clearly the "next person in line." I was at the dollar store recently (hope you like your Christmas gifts, everyone!) when this occurred and the clerk was savvy enough to ignore the buttinsky guy and signal me over so he could wait on me first. I felt like I had won the Mrs. America contest! "Thank you for acknowledging the invisible middle-aged woman," I told him. "You don't know how many times I practically get run over by schmucks who jump right in front of me." Then I turned and gave the line jumper a killer look that...well, let's just say I don't think he'll be shopping at the dollar store or butting in front of little oldish ladies any time soon.


There is a clothing drop-off bin in a shopping center near me for an organization called "Kiducation" with the puzzling tagline: "We turn used clothing into new kids through education." Really? Exactly how do you manage this science fiction-like trick and does the Department of Family Services know about it? 






Blame it on my Mother.

She's the one who started it.

She used to read the obituaries every day and report back to me if anyone we knew, met or ever laid eyes on had died.

So of course, in her honor, I scan the "Irish Sports Page" religiously.

Here are a few that stood out recently (some of the names have been changed to protect the nincompoops):

* The guy who was survived by "five grandchildren, including his shining star, Monica." Well, Grandpop, that must have made the other four grandkids feel just swell. Way to leave a legacy of passive-aggressive favoritism - bet that'll make for some festive holiday gatherings when the duller descendents start mumbling around the family table about that uber-annoying little brat Monica..." 

* In a similar fashion, the deceased who was described as "Grandfather of Gordon Charles and many other grandchildren." Again, either Gordon paid for the death notice (they go for a few hundred bucks, so it ain't pocket change) or this was another Grandad who wanted to hammer home to all the other kids how he felt about their infrequent visits to the old folks home. Not only were they probably left out of the will, they were also dissed publicly in the obit, so who says ya can't make an emphatic point from the grave?

* The woman who, God love her, died at 102 years old and was survived, God love him, by her 104 year old brother. Now that shows a family with some fortitude, nothing a World War or two could knock down. Hope bro was OK without his little sis around...

* Another hearty soul, a 104 year old man who listed his survivors in this order: His sisters, his brothers, his wife and his "beloved childhood dog, Comanche Nicodemus." Hey, the wife was listed after his siblings, but at least she got a mention before the dog who died eight decades ago...

The last words that are written about a person say a lot about them.

My dear old Mum died 20 years ago this Thanksgiving and to this day I have her death notice tucked away in my jewelry box. It's a very brief, ordinary obit that still holds some very chilling words for us.

But although gone, she is certainly not forgotten, and two decades later I remember, quote and talk about her more with a smile than a tear.

So here's to you, Mommy Bones, for providing us with a great Mom and for giving us a penchant for reading colorful obituaries.

For all of that and much, much more, we are truly thankful.




For God's Sake, Just Shut Up and VOTE!!!

Politicians, are you listening: DON'T CALL ME AGAIN OR I AM NOT GONNA VOTE FOR YOU. 

I have never been so grateful for Caller ID as when the words "Republicans" or "Democrats" or "Jesus, Even the Independents" appear on my phone.

I'm surprised their political marketing strategists don't try to disguise the phone blitz mission by calling it "Get Your Hands on Mitt" or "Oh, Baby, We're For Obama!" 

And do you know what else annoys me about this presidential election? Not the wishy-washy non-answers. ("I am going to rectify the deficit because, dagnabit, I love this country." Big deal, we ALL love this country, but that doesn't mean tiddlywinks when it comes to trillion dollar debt - give me a game plan, men, not the Pledge of Allegiance...)

What really steams me is that after each debate, every member of Romney's family has to take to the stage like it's a Prime Time Osmond reunion. I'm not just talking about the Damn-She-Looks-Good-For-Sixty-Three Mrs. Romney, I mean their grown sons - each one Ken Doll handsomer than the next - plus their wives, not to mention the grown grandchildren and a few over-tired toddler grandkids thrown in even though it's 10:30 PM and they should have been in bed hours ago. 

And I cringe during the post-debate dance when the two candidates act all convivial, back slapping and shaking hands like they're at a beer pong party, even though they just spent the last 90 minutes basically telling each other to shove it.

Obama dragged out his two adorable daughters for the Democratic Convention, but they looked as relaxed as any other young teens/tweens who are forced to appear in public with their parents.(Fact Checker One: Did Malia seem sincere when she waved to the crowd? Fact Checker Number Two: Well, the infrared camera and the lie detector gamma rays indicate that she's actually "just not that into them.")

Maybe the two First Daughters flat-out refused to appear at the debate dog-and-pony show. "Sorry if you lose the election, Daddy, but we're done preening for the cameras."

And forget about what the candidates said about foreign policy, I was too busy hating on Michelle Obama's dress at the last debate - it looked like an outfit for a 10-year-old's birthday party. Michelle, if you can't rock a First Ladyish suit, don't go for a frock that looks like it's from June Cleaver's closet.  The wonderful thing about America is that we can skewer the candidates and hardly any heads will get chopped off. We all probably have doppelgangers in remote countries around the world who would give their right ear (and maybe they already have, if involuntarily) to make fun of their leaders.

So bitch all you want about the candidates, but then shut up and cast that ballot.

Your vote does count, so on election day, let neither rain nor snow nor long lines nor sleet nor a scheduled mani-pedi keep you from your appointed rounds.



You've got mail?

I've got spam, tons of it.

Last week, I forgot to delete my spam messages and before I could say "Who the hell sends this crap?" almost 300 spams were screaming for attention in my mailbox.

That led me to wonder what the acronym "spam" stood for - Save People Any Mailings? Seek Professional Analysis, Moron?

No, legend has it that a bunch of computer geeks were big Monty Python fans and in honor of the comedy group's infamous "spam, spam, spam, spam, spam" sketch, they labeled the mass mailings that nobody wants to reads "spam" and the name caught on.

In the big blob of spam that I accumulated, there were some real doozies including these:

- The "delegate from the United Nations to the International Monetary Fund West African Regional Payment Office" who claimed that I was "Listed and approved" for a $500,000 payment for scammed victims. All I had to do was send a $75 "stamp fee" to collect my half-mil. A scammer sending a scam letter claiming to repay a scam victim? I may just send the guy a few bucks for his sheer audacity and his belief that there truly IS a sucker born every minute...

- Simona Viola, who began her message with "Meow Honey" then went on to suggest that we spend a couple of hot weekends together and "have fun without needless questions." Yeah, because if there is one thing that definitely ruins a wild weekend, it's a bunch of unnecessary inquiries, like "What's your name?"; "Did you use an alias in prison?" and "You want HOW much for a footrub?"

- The lady who wrote, "Dear Belove, Here writes Mrs. Ghada Yasir, suffering from cancerous ailment..." Never mind her typos and grasp of the language, I think cancer survivors everywhere should get together and email her back so many spam messages that she's be cured of something.

- Then there were the The Lucky Casino marketing geniuses who wanted to wish me Happy Holidays (in October - way to get over that procrastination tendency, folks!), not to mention the "Urgent Message regarding how to Obtain Enlarge It"; "Urgent Message regarding Mesh Patch Lawsuits"; "Urgent Message regarding Yasmin Lawsuits"; and, in full circle mode, "Urgent Message Regarding Enlarge It lawsuits."

- I also had a "legitimate business offer from a barrister" - a first! - and emails from those who were Married But Lonely (get a dog); Beautiful Singles (this does not compute); and Sexy Seniors (this really does not compute...).

- If I wanted, I could get a free Dell laptop (but I so enjoy paying for the one I already have!); earn a Medical Assistant degree (I may actually look into this one...); and try a NuWave Cooktop to "discover the perfect solution or dorm room or outdoor cooking" (what in the name of God does making dinner outside and whipping up a meal in a dorm room have in common -combustible flames?)

Spam saves a lot of paper, so I guess I should just be incredibly grateful for the "delete all" button. And I'm gonna use it , right after I learn a new language in 10 minutes, check out the details of Discreet Sex Dates and skim just a bit more of my SPAM, SPAm, SPam, Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam...




Dear Oscar,

Greetings, old friend, you know I love ya and all, but we gotta talk about your Academy Awards show.

For many years now, it's been longer than a Honey Boo Boo marathon and almost as annoying.

That's why I want you to meet a new friend of mine, Emmy.

Emmy showed up on TV this week and golly was she fun! Do you want to know why? Because she ran for precisely three hours and then she wrapped it up the moment the clock struck eleven, bada bing, bada boom.

How did she do it? Emmy was clever: she didn't have any Lawrence Welk-ish song-and-dance numbers; she didn't allow her award winners to blather on in their acceptance speeches (cue the music, it's over Johnny, I don't care if you don't get a chance to thank the pre-school teacher's aide who inspired you to go into show biz): and she sure as hell didn't take the show and the actor's "craft" so seriously (for instance, she made fun of dead people when Josh Groban sang a mushy tune to the "late" host, Jimmy Kimmel and had Jim Parsons, one of the geeks on the Big Bang Theory, lavishly hero-worship the Emmy accountants).

Most important of all, Emmy skipped the awards to technical people who non-industry folks (i.e., the whole world) don't care about or want featured during valuable TV time. Yes, of course, the head of wardrobe is crucial to MAD MEN, but who wants to see her struggle to the stage all the way from row 75 to hear her thank her first Singer sewing machine?

Emmy stuck with the go-to people we all read about in PEOPLE. That's who we nobodies want to see, not the president of the Academy of Arts and Excess. Nothing makes us feel better about getting up for a mundane job at Amalgamated Plastic on Monday morning than nitpicking Glenn Close's gown, hair and makeup on Sunday night.

Emmy was spirited, funny and timely and I actually enjoyed watching her. But Oscar, try as I might, I cannot say the same of you. You routinely drag on until well after midnight, when you know darn well that we all have to arise early for work the next day.

So do me a favor, will ya? Watch Emmy on demand and take notes. You have five months to trim down, spruce up and shake some life into your bones.

I know everyone considers Golden Globes as da bomb, but I think you can learn a trick or two by studying Emmy.

This year, she sparkled, so even though you just met her and this is crazy, here's her number, so call her, maybe?

Luv, Your Faithful-but-Frustrated Fan, DiDi Bones