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.