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."




When you live in the city and spend most work days perched in an office on the third floor of your hundred-year old twin home, you become very attuned to certain sounds: cars speeding up the block; delivery trucks bringing Amazon treasures; and neighbors bellowing threats at their loved ones with the zeal of Roman gladiators in a Colosseum death match.

Because we live two doors away from a public elementary school, I have also grown accustomed to a cacophony of sounds from the playground starting around 8 am every weekday: heart-stopping screams that could only come from a terrified individual on the verge of being drawn and quartered; basketballs being thrown at someone's developing skull; and every 30 seconds or so, some version or another of the F Bomb. 

But this year, the sounds of silence were all around.

You see, the 200-year-old school had closed in June and the building was now occupied by a charter middle-school that needed a new location.

Now I'm not up to date on the all the school headlines in Philly, but even I know that charter schools have been in the news lately because this administrator pilfered educational-designated funds for luxury cruises or that principal had her home renovated thanks to some very creative bookkeeping.

So the fact that a charter school was now in my neighborhood did not exactly make me grab my pom-poms and cheer.

But I have become much more enthusiastic because of what I'm hearing - or not hearing.

Here's what happened: The first day of school, it took me a while to notice that there were no sound-barrier-blasting screams emanating from the playground. No one sounded as if they were being being verbally belittled or physically manhandled. And, as far as I could tell, there were no curse words shouted at the top of a ten-year-old's lungs. Yes, there was the predictable rhythm and flow of a hundred kids gathered in a school yard, but it didn't sound as if the Crips and the Bloods were about to do battle.

Somewhere, someone had taught these kids to speak like normal human beings. 

And, get this, as I trotted Sammy Girl down our street to begin her morning walk that day, I passed a student who issued a chirpy, "Good Morning!" I swear that Sammy looked at me as if to say,"Dang, did you hear THAT?" We were both so used to students avoiding/ignoring/distaining us that to have an actual kid greet us in a civilized manner was, frankly, shocking.

I consulted she-who-knows-all, AKA the School Crossing Guard, who supplied the latest scuttlebutt: At this charter school, children are instilled with school pride and have learned to act in a manner that reflects well on them and the institution.

That must be why everything sounds so different from my third floor these days. It's as if Sister Mary Muscles is back in town, keeping an entire schoolyard of youngsters in line.

It's almost as if she's cocking her head and whispering: "See what a few basic rules and regulations can do?"

To which my ears and I can only reply: I hear ya, sister, believe me, I hear ya.



When we first started dating, I laid down the law to my beloved:No Chain Restaurants.

He was a divorced father of two young teenagers whose idea of going out for dinner was hunkering down at one of the monotonous neighborhood chains that occupy every other street in America. (I was a selfish, snobby, 40-something know-it-all who should have been thrilled that a nice guy was willing to take me anywhere to dine, but why dwell on the negative?)  

It soon became one of our inside jokes: (Me) Ya wanna go out to dinner? (He) Sure, let's head over to Applebees...

Instead, we'd try a local eatery and while we're certainly not foodies, we'd definitely have a more satisfying culinary adventure than a night at a cookie-cutter Lone Star Steakhouse.

So we hadn't been to a chain restaurant in at least a decade when I bribed hubby: I'll take you to Applebees if you accompany me to Ikea. Applebees was advertising a tantalizingly inexpensive special consisting of an appetizer and two entrees for 20 bucks. For that price, how could we go wrong? Times are tough and who knows, maybe my high horse would learn to love a chain or two.

Before you knew it, we had a car full of Swedish items that needed "some assembly" and were pulling up to our neighborhood Applebees.

We were pleased with a boisterous welcome by a jolly Applebees greeter - hey, this place is fun! - but the mood faded after we slid into our cracked pleather booth and noticed rugs polka-dotted with stains; decor that seemed sucked from a 1975 catalogue; and a manager who was loudly belittling one of his employees for some Applebees infraction. (Double trouble: You're working at Applebees and you're getting humiliated by a pudgy guy wearing a snug, short-sleeved dress shirt.) 

Then came the menu: The selections were what I refer to as "brown meals", i.e., dinners where hardly a speck of green can be found. There were wings, BBQ chicken, chipotle fajitas and quesadillas grandes galore, with a leaf of spinach thrown in for garnish and a ton of creamy, spicy and buttery sauce to make you smack your lips, murmur "What Weight Watchers?" and vow to return promptly.

Dare I mention that every patron in the place was even chubbier than us? One family had a toddler who had legs the size of baseball bats, a legacy that will be secured by a lifetime of Applebees delectables.

A recent study in the PUBLIC HEALTH NUTRITION journal reviewed 30,000 items from 245 chain restaurants and found that 96% of them failed to meet federal guidelines for the combination of calories, sodium, fat and saturated fat set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

That sounds about right.

I don't mean to pick on Applebees, but I have to say that one evening at the chain was all it took for me to keep away for another decade.

When it comes to dining out, I'll probably stay home and make a P&J rather than park my widening butt at another factory-like chain.

Applebee's  latest slogan is "See You Tomorrow" but honestly guys, even though the price is right, I really wouldn't count on it.




Sometimes, I just hate the powerful lure of electronics.

I'll bet, every once in a while, you do, too.

My defining moment came on Sunday in Cape May, NJ.

I was late for church - surprise, surprise - when I quietly opened the heavy wooden door to the side chapel. It's the hideaway spot in the church favored by older folks from the nearby retirement high-rise and chronic late comers like myself. I lingered by the door, too ashamed to slide into a pew. That's when I noticed the blonde-haired surfer boy in the corner of the chapel sullenly playing a video game on his phone.

That's nothing new, plenty of parents use video games to keep the tots busy while the family is out in public.

But the kid in church wasn't a child, he was an older teen, probably around 16 or 17 at least, old enough to try to hide his disinterest. I figured Mummy and Daddy had forced him to accompany them to mass, and he got his revenge by sitting apart from them and passing time by playing his game, the hell with anyone in the side chapel who didn't like it.

But since we were in church, it seemed inappropriate to give the kid my Evil Eye. (This is a scathing look that does little to deter anyone from doing anything, but makes me feel better and is far less confrontational than shouting "YOU IDIOT, STOP IT!") So I just stepped over to a spot in front of game boy to remove him from my line of sight. I saw him again when he put the video game away - THANK GOD - to slink up to communion. After he returned, he swiftly whipped out the device and resumed play. This kid was on a mission... 

When services concluded, I walked to my car in the small parking lot and as I started the engine, who ambled up to the vehicle in front of me but the game-playing kid, all by his lonesome. He slid into the driver's seat and sped away.That meant that he was indeed age 16 or older and that he came to church alone. Which led to this question: If he had wheels, why didn't he just sneak over to a friend's house and boldface lie to his family - "Yessiree, Ma, I sure did go to church, it was very enlightening this week" - like other kids have done for generations? Why brazenly play his video game in church, distracting adults around him and acting like a selfish, spoiled child?

Has technology and electronics infiltrated our social mores to the extent that the teen thought it was acceptable behavior to bow his head to play a video game instead of, I don't know, maybe reading a gospel passage or even the church bulletin? 

I know I shouldn't judge - I can't say that I've never covertly peeked at my cell phone for messages while smack dab in the middle of a church service.  

But casually playing a video game during the entire hour of worship with a grouchy old lady throwing invisible daggers at you - is that just a sign of the future?

If it is, then that's why, sometimes, honest to God it just hits me how much I really hate electronics.




Last week, a few photos in the daily newspaper really irked me.

One was of Jerry Sandusky, who has since been convicted of child molestation.

The other was of Father James J. Brennan, who was - wow, what a coinkydink - also accused of child molestation (attempted rape of a 14-year-old boy), but the jury deadlocked on his charge.

The photos of both men, published the day before the juries decided their fates, showed them smiling as if they were on their way to the ice cream store.

A photo of Sandusky with a half-witted/creepy/unnerving grin is nothing new. To me, he always seems to be desperately trying to emit an aura of a regular, khaki-wearing fella who is just chillin' and maybe heading over to gym to watch some game tapes.Whenever I spotted a photo of his Separated-From-Goofy-at-Birth mug as he casually strolled to the courtroom, I wanted to shake his big square head and say, "For God's sake, pervert, the jig is finally up and they're shining a spotlight on your evil soul, so wipe that smile off your face NOW before I smack it off."

But just above Sandusky's picture in the paper that very same day was a photograph of Father Brennan enjoying a hearty, knee-slapper of a guffaw with one of his lawyers as they ambled over to their courthouse.

Let's face it, this clergyman hardly has good judgement, but must he be reminded of why he is at the criminal justice center ...and it ain't exactly unpaid parking tickets? Perhaps this is neither the time nor the place to enjoy a classic "A priest, a minister and a rabbi walk into a bar..." joke with his pal. And, maybe I'm just an old fuddy duddy, but I believe that if you happen to notice a throng of photographers huddling nearby as you head to your child rape charge, maybe it's best if you didn't publicly bust a gut cackling like you're at Friday Happy Hour.

Those two photos steamed me and then, of course just to really taunt me, the next day, the newspaper carried a grinning close-up of the maniac in Norway who shot 77 people as he sat through his trial. If you didn't know who is was, you'd think the effervescent smile was that of a young man who had just been named next season's Bachelor. Revolting.

But things aren't all bad.

The next day the same paper ran a photo of Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and umpire Bob Davidson, and neither one of them was smiling.

In fact, they looked like two aging boars on the prairie, about to tear into each other to keep from starving to death.

Those guys have horse sense and know when to keep their game face on.

Maybe the morons who are on trial could learn a lesson or two from these good old boys: NEVER smile, especially when the cameras are flashing, the whole world is watching and you're guilty as all hell.




Please, Lord, tell me this is some MAD MAGAZINE satire plunked into a legit newspaper just to see if we're paying attention.

But no, pray as I might, it's for real: Courage, a Catholic group that promotes celibacy among "people with same-sex attraction" held its 13th annual summer sports camp at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary on the outskirts of Philadelphia.

Who is invited to this camp for grownups?

Men who have a hankering for other men.

The goal of the camp is to toughen up those wussies who like men and, after a week of dribbling balls and huddling in scrimmages, hope that they'll "get religion" and start dating women. 

How do you like that logic?

The seminary, you may recall, was mentioned in court recently when a priest was on trial for allowing other priests to molest youngsters. At least one priest who was called to the stand by the prosecution admitted that there was indeed hanky-panky going on among residents of that very same seminary. What a coinkydink that it is the setting for the Courage camp. It's like holding a marriage counseling session in the Playboy Mansion - inappropriate, senseless and downright moronic.

It's mind blowing that the Courage folks think that a little field work will inspire a man to, as they say on their web page,"move beyond the confines of the homosexual identity." Yeah, throw that pretty boy in a pair of sweats and get him to get his back field in motion, that'll learn him! Before ya know it, he'll be bettin' on the Super Bowl, going on another hunting weekend or playing cards with the boys again.

Why put all this energy into changing someone? Dost thou protest too much? Are the Courage leaders (who, frankly, seem rather more fiendish than courageous) trying to push down a secret crush on Ricky Martin? Do they really believe that shooting 100 free throws will drum that desire out of their brain?

If they don't like men falling in love with men, then simply don't fall in love with another man and MYOB.

Even if a guy knows the name of every quarterback in the NFL,that doesn't automatically mean he is straight. And if he is gay, summer camp, winter camp, sports camp, manly-man camp or dude-you're-gonna-be-straight-if-we-have-to-beat-the-gay-outta-you camp.

Living as your true self, even if some people despise and ostracize you for it, now that takes courage.