Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving Dillema

Mama and I are invited to have Thanksgiving at my daughter-in-law's parent's house this year. That means I need to just take along a couple of Mama-friendly side dishes and she can have a bite or two of whatever else she likes in addition to her turkey. (I always end up cooking a turkey even if I don't have Thanksgiving at my house. I love, love, love real turkey sandwiches and enjoy getting creative with the leftovers). Anyhow, I bought some fresh cranberries to make cranberry sauce and I want to make a yummy cornbread casserole. My dilemma is that every recipe I find for it calls for Jiffy mix which of course, I can't use due to the high sodium content. So I'll be experimenting with my own "mix" to use in the recipe. I'm pretty sure I can pull it off and I'll bet the folks won't even realize that the salt is missing. When I get it figured out I'll post it for anyone who's interested.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Trouble With Families

Family dynamics are, shall we say, interesting. They seem to become even more interesting when Mom or Dad goes to a nursing home for rehab after a surgery or illness. Everyone wants what is best for Mom or Dad. The trouble starts when the spouse, children, grandchildren, neighbors, friends and so on all feel like they have to be in on the action of every aspect of Mom or Dad's care plan. It usually looks something like this: either the spouse or the child who has most of the caregiving responsibilities (we'll call him Bob) is in contact with the nursing staff, social worker/discharge planner, physical therapist, occupational therapist, physician, etc. Then daughter Polly shows up and has to speak to all the same staff members, getting the same information that Bob got. Later on daughter-in-law Millicent calls so that brother Morris can stay informed and she speaks to all the same staff members, getting the same information that Bob and Polly got. Except that Millicent thinks that Dad needs more or less medication, different therapies and that Mom isn't capable of making good decisions any longer regarding Dad's care. Keep in mind, now that both Mom and Dad are still quite alert and oriented and have the right to make their own decisions be they good or bad.

Anyhow, you get the picture. Most of the folks above are lovely people who mean well and only want the best for their loved one. What they don't realize is that by not agreeing to have one family member act as spokesperson and liason between the staff and the rest of the family they are actually sucking up valuable time that is needed to provide actual care and therapy for not only their loved one but for everyone else in the facility as well. I'm thinking that this ought to be a requirement on admission - choose one person to be the communicator and let the rest of the family argue amongst themselves if they have differences of opinion. Most folks have chosen the person(s) they want to handle their business affairs and make their medical decisions if necessary. I think they ought to add family communicator to the list as well. Then they can tell Bob, Polly, Millicent, Morris and all the rest what's going on with Mom or Dad and the staff can provide the care that will help Mom or Dad get back on their feet. I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Matter of Attitude

Yes, it has been a while. Thanks for asking. I've been enjoying my new job, trying to do justice to the part-time one and then there's life. Busy times but I'm grateful to have them. Not sure what's next, the person I'm covering for is due back from her maternity leave on December 7th. I've started looking to see what's out there and hope it's better this time around. I figure there were things to learn and experiences to have and I'm kind of excited to see what God's got planned for me next.

In the meantime I've been observing life in the nursing home/rehab center world. There are stories there, as I'm sure there are in all of them, that could fill volume after volume with stories of love, pain, bravery, fortitude, hilarity, sadness and escapades of d erring do. We lose a lot by letting those stories go untold or forgotten. And there are personalities - oh, are there personalities. I stepped in to one of my resident's rooms yesterday to see how things were going. She is what we like to call "pleasantly confused" and her language is a bit on the salty side but I enjoy talking to her very much. I asked how her day was going and she replied, "Not worth a damn!" with a little laugh. I was not just a little bit annoyed by the young physical therapist who entered after me and proceeded to lecture her on using her "nice words so we don't offend anyone." Jeez Louise. She may be elderly, pleasantly confused, salty-tongued and mischievous but she's still a grown woman who deserves the dignity to be treated as an adult, not a 4 year old. But I digress. The point is that it is the ones who can laugh even when their day isn't going that great, who get up and go to therapy or out in the dining room even when they don't feel like it, who can see the silver lining even in a day filled with dark ugly clouds, they are the ones who are still engaged with life. They generally fare better in their progress but even when they don't they have a positive impact on everyone around them. I have seen even the grumpiest of nurses, aides or other residents thaw out and even chuckle when persistently engaged by a merry soul. And the biggest impact is made by those who have little or no reason to be merry but yet they persist in their cheery ways. I like hanging out with them and I want to be just like them when I grow up.