Nursing Homes: How to “Make the Best of It”

My grandmother’s stay in the nursing home was about 11 months. I learned many things about relating to all staff involved in her care from administration to CNAs. I made many friends there and o this day I cherish the time we spent together.

Over the next several posts I want to share with you some of the experiences Mom and I had in this nursing home. I want to share how I handled various situations that arose during the months of her residence there.

First of all, this nursing home is basically a good facility. It has an open, bright atmosphere when you first step through the door. It is beautifully decorated, and everything feels and smells fresh and clean. It is locally owned and well run.

Not all our experiences there were good. There were some very difficult moments, but I believe that the way I handled the bad experiences enabled my grandmother to have many more good experiences. Overall she was cared for very well.

Caretaking: Sleeping Issues

Many times the bedtime and sleeping challenges for the seriously ill develop slowly.  After my mother’s cancer was diagnosed and she  began chemo, she and Daddy continued to sleep in the same bed.  Everything was fine….for a while.

After the second month of chemo, Mother’s strength quickly began to give way.  She was finding it harder and harder to walk down the hall to their bedroom.  One day she walked down that hall for the last time, collapsing like a wet rag unable to get up.  Daddy called a family friend, a big man who picked her up like she was a baby and put her on the bed.  She was too weak to go any further.

After her hospital stay, she was somewhat stronger and could walk short distances.  However, because their bed was too low and too far away for her walking endurance, we (her daughters) decided that the ‘front bedroom’ was the best place for her to sleep at night.  Medicare provided a hospital bed, as well as a bedside toilet.  We did our best to make her new bedroom comfortable for her.  We bought an infant monitor and set it up so that Daddy could hear her if she needed something at night.

It made me sad that Mother and Daddy could no longer sleep together, but they didn’t protest.  I think they knew that life was no longer under their control.

The hospital bed was somewhat of a disappointment to me.  I guess I was expecting all the ‘bells and whistles’ with which the beds in the hospitals were equipped.  The noisy mattress was not comfortable at all and the head and foot was raised and lowered with a hand crank. ugh.  However, it did fit her needs because it needed to be high enough off the ground that she could get in and out easily.

This was how we handled the sleeping and bedtime issues.  If you, dear readers, have any suggestions that worked well in your family, please feel free to comment.

Let’s Get Practical

Most of the writing I have done in this blog and what I will do has been emotional.  The reason being that terminal illness is very emotional.  Every emotion in the dictionary at some point comes to the surface ‘when the family has cancer’.  We can not get around it, or change it.  We must accept it and do our best to work through the sea of emotions that we struggle to control, lest we be controlled by them.

However, this morning it occurred to me that ‘when the family has cancer’ or some other terminal or serious illness, there are practical issues that must be addressed.  Sometimes these issues are small and minor. Sometimes they are significant.  Sleeping issues. Bathing issues.  Feeding issues. Appetite issues. Clothing issues. Toileting issues. Mobility issues.

My plan is to discuss one category of issues at a time.  Please feel free to offer suggestions.  Perhaps your family has faced the same challenges and you have answers that worked for your situation.  We would like to know about it.  I know there are families who are facing serious situations even as I write this.  If you have questions, feel free to ask.  Let’s make this time free and open and practical.

Father, I pray for families who even right now whose world has been turned upside down by cancer or other illness.  I pray that You will give them comfort, peace and grace equal to the moment.  I pray that You will grant them support through friends and family, that you will meet their physical needs and their emotional needs.  Father, be the Healer, Counselor, and Comfortor for those families.  In Jesus’ name. Amen