Wednesday, November 28, 2012

She spoke, "Old People Aren't Icky"

Its been awhile since I've posted anything.  I usually have to hear a phrase or a subject that gets the creative illustration to paper.  Yes......I heard the phrase and that is why I'm writing. 

For most of you that know me personally.  You know that I'm a fighter and when I believe in something I'm convinced that my mindset and judgment are correct.  Well, my sister and I were cut from the same cloth.  However, if my sister believes that she is right she will threaten to take you out into the street and rumble, but I don't think I'm quite that aggressive.  Therefore, who not to be a magnificent supporter of the elderly in a nursing home.  My sister is the old peoples biggest advocate.  While my mom was a resident in the local nursing home in Wyoming, my sister would volunteer to help with activities and make sure my mom was taken care of the way she deserved.  So when my sister wanted to take the grand kids to the local nursing home to trick or treat, you should of seen the lips curl, the eyes roll and heads tilt. That is when she spoke.....OLD PEOPLE AREN'T ICKY.....

The public view on long term care is because people are uneducated.  Often people say they hate to visit nursing homes because "they smell." Or it's depressing to see all of those old people sitting in their wheelchairs waiting to die. Or, well, they just hate it and feel guilty about hating it.   Most people wont visit a nursing home because their own mortality is hitting them in the face.  

The elderly love to see children come into the nursing home on the holidays or new babies come to visit grandma.  That is the moment in their lives where they aren't constantly wondering what year it is, how old they are, or who the president is.  They adore children and what a better way to teach children respect, caring, and the art of being kind.     

Visit your loved one in the nursing home, make yourself useful with other residents as well, and work as an activist to improve nursing homes, so that when you are old - yes, you will get old, if you are fortunate enough to live that long -  that your nursing home will be your home away from home.  Its the holiday season........ be festive, joyous, respectful, caring and kind......make a old person smile. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Doesnt have to say a word....

Doesn't have to say a word.....

A lot of my peeps can't tell me much about the kind of person they are, the life they lead, their values, their opinions, their political affiliation, or how many children they have.  Most of the time there is no family to give me a history on what kind of person they are.  My peep is usually a poor historian.   However, there is always something that I can find in their personal belongings that tell me a lot about their values or what kind of life they lead.  Sometimes they don't even have to say a word.  I found this in a wallet of one of my peeps.   She had apparently written it and has carried it in her wallet for quite sometime.  It was very worn and traveled with her the ups and downs of her life.  I instantly could see what kind of person she was by this poem.  She believed in hard work, being true to her friends and family.  

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)

I would be interested in what everybody interprets from this poem.  In my interpretation she is an awesome lady. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Time to breath and reboot

Sorry, I haven't been very faithful to my blog. The last 4 weeks have been days of deep thought and sorrow. Thoughts that I didn't know exactly how to put on paper. I had 3 of my peeps pass in the last 4 weeks. Death comes to everyone eventually there is no protection against it. Though it is very hard for all of us to have a loved one pass, it is also very natural. What isn't natural is for a person to go through this natural process by themselves. What matters most often is simply being present. Taking time to sit down, hold a hand, give support and just be there. I always ask myself, "what do they need, what do they want"? Have I helped to make their journey through this process peaceful? Not knowing my Peeps during their young adult life it is hard to determine what their beliefs were. Did I make the right decision, did they pass peaceful and I hope they weren't scared. I have been trained to use substituted judgment and best interest, but most of all I need to be human with a heart. In addition, I hope to hell before my Peeps decision making capacity was taken that they had Advance Directives and gave me some clue of what their beliefs are.  C’mon help me through this process Peeps!!! I guess what I'm trying to say; make your wishes known for the end of life so your loved ones or a guardian don't have to. I call mine a "get together book". It’s something none of us wants to think about but don’t let the burden be on your loved one or the person taking care of you. Okay, that is off of my mind; let me tell you about the 3 peeps that touched an edge of my life.

Each of the three Peeps was three of the most different individuals. Peep Scotch was an avid reader and a very educated man. The day before his passing he enjoyed the Masters Golf Tournament (he knew every single golfer and their career in golf) and a great dinner. That made my heart happy considering he took a turn for the worse very rapidly. I hope he is enjoying a cigarette and a glass of expensive scotch. Peep Barber was a reserved man and seemed very patient. A World War II veteran. He was a Barber in Elko for years. He was very familiar to me before he was my Peep. Peep Realtor (I wrote about him in a blog earlier) would always want to go get his haircut and Peep Barber was the one that had to cut it. However, little did I know Peep Barbers cognitive deficits were probably worse than Peep Realtors? Then there is Peep Matriarch. The reason I call her this name is because she was the Matriarch of her family. She was the one who made the decisions of the family.  The one who would chase the kids around the house with a frying pan if they didn’t behave. She was a tough and brawny lady in her younger years and very determined in her older years. Peep Matriarch began her young adult life with her family at the start of the depression. At 94 years old she was still following her son as he hunted deer in Nevada. What amazed me about Peep Matriarch was she had these feelings that an event was about to occur. I believe she had a sign that her own death was going to occur.

I’m very fortunate to have so many different people in my life and experience all of their lives. However, it’s time to breath and reboot.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April is Parkinson's Awareness Month

Every 10 minutes of each day brings a new diagnosis of Parkinson's disease -- and there is no cure or a definitive cause. April has been designated as "Parkinson's Awareness" month. The goal is to raise awareness about Parkinson's and educating caregivers and family about the resources available to them. Parkinson's disease is progressive and symptoms may come on in stages. Difficulties increase as the disease progresses. Learning how to continually adapt is a daily learning process. Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disorder that affects nearly one million people in the U.S. The incidence of Parkinson’s increases with age, but an estimated 4 percent of people with Parkinson’s are diagnosed before age 50. A diagnosis of young onset Parkinson’s disease does not necessarily mean an individual cannot continue working, but for some, continued full-time employment eventually becomes impossible.

Peep Social was one of my first and only wards who have actually been diagnosed with this dreadful disease. Peep Social was a man that loved rock hunting, gold mining and some recreational stimulation (if you get my drift). He was diagnosed when he was in his prime. Continued full-time employment eventually became impossible. How devastating could it be to all of a sudden know that your future involves muscle rigidity, bradykinesia, tremors, postural reflex abnormalities and trying to find the maximum drug effectiveness?

Peep Social is one of my biggest inspirations. Although on a daily basis he has to deal with the symptoms and what the disease will bring with a new day he will try to make your day better. He will tell one of his quirky jokes or wear one of his t-shirts that exactly tells you how his day is going. When he is having one of his good days instead of having his walker in front of him he is dragging it in the wind. I will never forget the day I was at my father’s funeral and I got a call from the nursing home and he was missing. I panicked and here I am 900 miles away and could not help. They found him at the local casino watching the Super Bowl. I wanted to scold him and ground him like he was my teenage child. This is when I found out you can scold someone with a low tone of voice, a look on your face that expresses disapproval and very few words. I didn’t want to take his sense of adventure from him but it really could have been a disaster. But now we laugh about it together and we learned alot on that day too. Peep Social has this philosophy; there is no sense in trying to do something unless “I” can do it. That is what I love about his courage and goals. Yes, he still has goals that one day he will be able to go rock hunting again.

Peep Social didn’t have much family or care giving support before I did a guardianship on him. Therefore, his medical reviews and medications weren’t up to date. His lifestyle wasn’t helping his disease. I had to do a lot of research and phone calls to find what was best for Peep Social. I knew deep down that he had to have a better quality of life and I was going to give it to him. I found the answer to our endless hours of research, which was Dr. Bernick. I found Dr. Bernick of the Cleveland Clinic through the health care services via telemedicine in our small community. We didn’t have to travel and he was seeing one of the best doctors in our area for his disease. Telemedicine offers many advantages. It can make specialty care more accessible to underserved rural populations. Telemedicine opened up new possibilities for Peep Social. Peep Social now has another specialist under his wing at The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. It’s amazing what these specialist learn everyday about this disease. With our support and outreach hopefully we can find a cure for this disease.   

I encourage everyone to join me and Peep Social in hopes of one day finding a cure for this disease.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Power Of A Wet Cold Nose

Animals of all types, especially dogs and cats, help not only the elderly overcome the pain of loneliness, but pets show companionship and affection. For anyone who is consistently left alone, pets can also supply a sense of security and protection. Pets can make one laugh and divert the mind away from troubles. In my job not only do I have to regret the decision to place my elderly peeps in an upper level of care but sometimes I have to find a loving new home for their pet. This ultimately means that the peep and animal are separated. However, usually if the peep has to be placed in an upper level of care the pet has suffered the consequences of being neglected. They have probably been neglected because the owner is no longer able to take care of themselves; let alone a pet. But our pets are so loyal to us. Some of these pets know their owners have lost the capacity to take care of them. However, they are there to protect and serve. I have a few stories that I have to share about the pets I have had to deal with.
I have pets of my own and I love them to death. They are very protective of me and I’m very grateful. In this particular guardianship I had to deal with an over protective cat. I have never been a cat owner so I thought I would be able to gather the cuddly ball of fur and take her to her new home. She was a very old and spoiled cat. Peep 911 fed her cat real tuna. Every time, I would go visit Peep 911 the cat would hide and never come out while I was there. I went to the house after I placed Peep 911 in the Assisted Living and the cat wasn’t a very happy kitty. I couldn’t catch her. She would hide under the bed and hiss. So I decided to round up a co-worker and try some cat wrangling. Jody and I went into the house and chased the cat around the house for a few minutes. The cat hid everywhere we couldn’t get to. She would spit, hiss and snarl. I decided we were stressing the cat out as much as the cat was stressing us out. So I decided to call animal control and let them catch the cat. I called the dispatch number for animal control and explained who I was and I asked someone to help me get this fuzzy ball of fur caught. I heard over the dispatch call unit the dispatcher say "we have an upset cat at such and such street", "REPEAT" "we have an upset cat at such and such street. In about 10 minutes two animal control officers were at the apartment and walked up to the cat and caught it in about 30 seconds. I guess they were the cat whisperer.
On another occasion Peep Late Night had some sort of small collie. I went over to Peep Late Nights one day to prepare her for her move to the nursing home and her collie was smoking a cigarette. Apparently, the dog smoked all of the time. I was lucky and a family member took the collie home. However, it was only on the terms that the collie quit smoking.
Still on another occasion this animal wasn't alive anymore. I was cleaning a car of Peep Motel and I found a box under the seat. It was a wooden box with a nice latch on it and the box was inside of a Ziploc bag. I opened the box and there was a powder in it with a few chunks too. Nothing that reminded me of anything I was familiar with. However, my first assumption was that it was drugs. I call dispatch and they sent over a police officer to investigate. The officer got prepared; he put on his rubber gloves and carefully slipped the Ziploc bag off of the wooden box and then strategically opened the latch on the wooden box. He examines it carefully and looks at me in a very serious police officer face. He says "it looks like you have the cremation remains of someone’s animal here". He further says, "That is probably why it says Charley on the box". I felt like I was about 2 feet high and I can imagine the stories he told in the police department break room.
I did on one occasion try to keep united Peep La Fiesta and Peep Budweiser (dog) together in the move to the nursing home. I not only had the responsibility to take care of Peep La Fiesta but now I had a dog to take care of. I was very fortunate that I had a nursing home Administrator that was willing to keep them united. However, it seemed Peep La Fiesta really didn't want the dog’s companionship as much as I wanted to keep them companions. The staff was taking care of Peep Budweiser more than Peep La Fiesta was paying attention to him. At one time, two of the residents thought Peep Budweiser were theirs and they each had a leg of Peep Budweiser’s and were trying to see how long he would stretch. Unfortunately, Peep Budweiser ended up incontinent and a family member had to come and get him.
I had Mr. and Mrs. Peep Mummy and their dog that they carried around inside a suitcase. Yes…the dog was no longer alive but the dog went everywhere with a suitcase. I won’t go any further with this story.
My own mom was in a nursing home and my sister’s dog kept her company almost every day. My sister would drop her dog off at the door and he knew exactly where my mom’s room was. Somehow that dog knew my mom needed his affection. Of course, it couldn’t be the fact that my mom saved part of her lunch for him every day.
I breaks my heart when I have to separate my peeps from their most cherished companions. They do add a quality of life. Whenever you take an animal or a baby into a nursing home they will get undivided attention. Everyone should understand the power of a cold wet nose. Our bonds with our animals bring deep joy to our lives -- and that bond is so amazing we should be compelled to share it with the world. If your furry friend is something special, share them with an elderly person.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Be an example and a leader

Be an example and a leader….

Have you ever heard from your parents, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say?”  Do you think that was a way our parents were telling us that one day we will be the leader and they are leading us by example?  Reaching adulthood and becoming a leader means that you must now possess much more than mere good intentions.  Leadership and being an example are actions not words.  Effective leaders follow through with appropriate actions.  However, in order to be a leader one must also learn from their mistakes.    My mother once told me when I was small and I had said, “I hate so and so”.  She told me that I may dislike someone but I never hate someone.  That was my mother being a leader and teaching me from her mistakes.  The people who taught me the most about effective leadership were my parents and my “peeps”. I learned a lot of people skills from my mother.  My mother was a nurse for many years.  She always took the time to get to know her patients and not see them as just a job.  I think that is why I respect the nurses and all caregivers that take care of all of my “peeps”.  Being a parent, nurse and caregiver is the best respected and invaluable leader there is.   

I’ve tried to create a preface into this blog from the above paragraph.  I have in the last couple of days on Facebook read a couple of very disturbing views on a caregiver’s particular job.   I’m a big Facebook follower; though at times I have sworn I was going to delete my account.  However, you do need to be careful what is typed and read.  It can always mean or be perceived as something that you don’t really want to say.  The young girls were griping about their jobs, like we all do from time to time.   They were ranting and raving that if so and so was not going do their job then I’m not going to do my job either.  It really rubbed me the wrong way.  Where is your self pride?  Maybe you were all having a really bad hair day.  After all, the planets are supposed to be aligned and it was a full moon.  At times you just need to vent.

First of all I want to say, young ladies you are the ones my “peeps” depend on……….You are young ladies with babies and children of your own.  Now is the time that you should start the leadership mode.  Now is the time you give your children the example of when you made a mistake.  Now is the time that you show my “peeps” and the other 1 in 5 Americans who are elderly that you are going to take over the leadership role.  I know that a caregivers or nurses job is a very thankless job.  I have experienced that from many angles. I know words of appreciation could be just what are needed to strengthen your leadership abilities. However, don’t give up your example or leadership abilities because you have not been constantly praised or thanked.  There is always someone that appreciates your efforts.  In addition, someday your daughter or son may be writing this blog and thanking you.  They may be thanking you for showing them how to be an example and a leader.     Thanks, mom…….      

Friday, March 2, 2012


Peep Realtor wore many hats.  He was a long time resident of Elko.  Had a very loving and supportive family.  That was an advantage for me.  I had been a guardian for about 4 or 5 years and haven’t nearly seen everything and I was still learning.  But Peep Realtor taught me a whole lot and I am forever in his debt.  I spent a great deal of time making sure that he had the least restrictive environment and still made sure he was taken care of.  The most important thing I learned was to make sure Peep Realtor still thought he was needed and that he made a difference and most important I listened.  He definitely was one of those Peeps that I learned from my mistakes.  I have to laugh about it now.     
Many people do not have the opportunity I have to interact with elderly people on a regular basis.  Peep Realtor would engage you in a conversation you thought you would be so far removed from and would seem awkward at the time but he was a link to my past and I didn’t know it then but a link to my future. 
Peep Realtor gave me a deeper understanding and even made me more comfortable with my own aging process.  My biggest challenge was to let him be who he was and not change him just because he became elderly.  I never knew him when he was young; a vibrant man and busy with life and family.  However, I was the lucky one.   I got to hear what he experienced from the expert that knew.  I got to share his greatest possession----his memories.  Peep Realtor gave me a glimpse of both the past and the future.  I have to think…. does my family know me now at this age-----age 50?    I would like to give them the gift of really knowing me now.  Trying to get past attitudes, their approval, their acceptance, not to mention our busy lives…’s hard. But I think it will be easier when we get older to have their approval maybe because we are facing mortality.   I think at my age when I talk to my family they aren’t entering into my reality we have to get old to enter into reality.The elderly have already forgotten more then we know. What we must remember is that the elderly are moving toward the end of their lives in their own way, and we must allow them to make that step and LISTEN.