Making Friends in High Places

I ate with Mom at least three times a week, and the meals was almost always good. The food in this nursing home was definitely above average. They worked at individualizing meals to accommodate the needs, likes and dislikes of residents.

They weren’t perfect, however, and there were times when my grandmother’s diet needed to be changed. She went through stages. There were days where she wanted bacon for breakfast every morning. Even though she talked to the CNAs about it, somehow her desires were not communicated with the workers in the kitchen.

Fortunately I had become friends with the director of nutrition. We had conversations on a regular basis, and I always let him know that he and his workers did a wonderful job feeding the little folks in their care. When Mom’s ‘bacon tooth’ became active, I shared her desires with the nutrition director and she had bacon every morning.

Yes, it makes life better for those in your care, if you make friends in high places.

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First Rattle Out Of the Box

Before we moved Mom from the hospital to the nursing home, I spent a lot of time talking with the administrator and others in that facility. I did my best to make sure that everyone understood her needs, and I thought I had done a pretty good job.

That is until I walked in one morning just two days after her placement in the nursing home. She was sitting in her wheelchair in the hallway. When she saw me, she began to cry. In all my life I had never seen my grandmother cry. Not when her husband died. Not when her middle son died. Not when her oldest son died.

Needless to say, her tears on this occasion upset me. She told me that she had been treated roughly. She said that the CNAs had pushed and pulled her while dressing her and transferring her from her bed to her wheelchair. She told me that they caused more pain in her back. Oh man, was I mad.

I immediately located the CNAs and informed them in very concrete terms that Mom could not be treated in that fashion. Then I went to the administrator on duty that day. I clearly made my concerns known to him. He then talked to Mom, and she confirmed everything I had said. He assured me that our concerns would be addressed and the entire staff would be informed about how to help Mom transfer as well as other needs.

The administrator was true to his word, and within a day the staff knew about Mom’s needs. Things improved dramatically for her. Sigh.

Mom’s ‘Roomie’

I had hoped that Mom’s roommate would be a sweet, happy little lady, someone just like my grandmother. My first clue that that was not the case was when I asked the nursing home administrator about her just before we moved Mom. The administrator paused, took a breath and said, “Well, it will all be fine. This room was the only open space we had. If it doesn’t work out, we can move your grandmother when we have another room come open.”. Then she took me to meet Mom’s future roomie.

Well, as it turned out, God, the great Arranger, had chosen a lady that I had known for years as Mom’s room mate, and yes, ‘Susan’ would never be described as ‘sweet’. From the time I first met her, she always seemed to have a negative mindset. I always loved her, but she was in no way like Mom. Sigh.

God is so wise. Those ladies were a blessing to each other in so many ways. Susan had few friends and family, and received little positive attention from anyone other than staff. Mom and Susan were very good company for each other. When I brought goodies to Mom, I also made sure that I had an equal amount of goodies for Susan. When I gave Mom a manicure, Susan got one, too. Susan shared in family activities we had for Mom. She was included in everything. She loved all the attention, and I loved giving it to her.

How is it possible to overcome a negative situation? With love!

The Very Small “Cubicle”

It looked so very small. I knew it would be small, but I still was not emotionally prepared to see the “cubicle” space that would be Mom’s home. Being faced with the fact that her life had been reduced to a few square feet, was almost more than I could handle. Yep, nearly had a meltdown right there in that room.

Getting Mom settled into the nursing home was a difficult, physically exhausting, and emotionally draining event. But I did it. There are many details about those days that I don’t remember. Perhaps that is best.

At the beginning of Mom’s residence in the nursing home I made a concerted effort to get to know as many staff people as possible. I remember meeting the marketing director, the administrator, the director of nutrition, the director of nursing and the head custodian. From that time on, I greeting everyone with a smile and kind words.

I wanted everyone to know that I was part of “the team”, and that when I was visiting Mom, I would be helping with her care. At first I could tell that the CNAs were a little nervous to have me around. Most likely they thought that I would be going to the administrator with complaints about them. After a few weeks, they began to trust me, just as I began to trust them.

Don’t think, however, that all was “sweetness and light”. There were some difficult moments. In the next post, I share the first one.