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."




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



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.