Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Gift Ideas for the Elderly

Every year, it never ceases to amaze me the odd illogical gifts that people with good intentions give the elderly. It's really kinda sad and funny at times. Hope these tips help!!

Here's a list of BAD IDEAS. (Just think about it) Most of these don't really need much explanation.

Razors ??

Small hard to put on knee socks??

Huge Heavy Lifetime size bottles of Lotion??

Turtle neck sweaters??

Dark black, brown or blue clothes(they have to write their names on clothes for the laundry)

Small hard candies, hard fruits, Sugar treats for Diabetics??

Great Big Stuffed Animals (Very small living areas) ??

DVD's or CD's when they have no DVD or CD players??

Large size of Men's cologne . Difficult to open pour out bottles.??

Candles ( are you kidding me???)Hot curling irons or curlers??

Clothes that need to be dry cleaned.??

Sleeveless blouses, or shorts (have you ever seen an elderly person in a tank top)??

Odd color kits of hard to put on makeup that do not match the woman's skin tone.??

Anything that is glass. ??

Consider that a good percentage of the elderly in long term care, have trouble eating and or swallowing. Also many are diabetics. Before you bring a food or candy gift, find out if they can even enjoy it. Mom doesn't mind when she gets candy she can't eat, she enjoys giving it a piece at a time to the nurse aids who care for her. So this can be ok, but not if you want them to actually eat it. 

Clothes are usually washed with large industrial washing machines, so bring light colored clothes and socks so they can write their name on  with a sharpie. Or if you wish, sew their name in. 

Easy to put on light weight clothing.

Everyone likes those really soft diabetic socks you can get at pharmacies or Wall mart. 

Light weight easy to put on gowns or house dresses are a good idea for ladies but not too
long. (Real long gowns can get all wound up around their feet. )

Same for men, comfy easy to put on PJ's are good. Easy to put on shirts, tee shirts.

Those crock shoes work well for most elderly people or tennis shoes without strings to tie.

Ladies love fresh flowers.


Bring in a small gift and then stay awhile to talk and listen. 

Bring a small gift and a child. Most elderly people love to see and talk to children. 

Bring a small gift and a pet. Most elderly people miss their pets. Needs to be a small pet that is quiet and doesn't jump around a lot or bite. 

Bring a good book and come back often to read out loud  a chapter or two. 

Bring a nail kit, emery board and do their finger nails. Clear polish is best. 

Bring something from their favorite restaurant at lunch or dinner time. Bring something for yourself too and sit and talk and enjoy the meal together in the dining area. 

If it's a nice day and they are in a wheel chair, take them outside for a  nature walk . 

Tell them that you have forgiven that person in your family that they want you to forgive. Tell them you told them that you have forgiven them and all is well.

I know that last one is difficult but often  that's what they really want the most and a huge bottle of soap is never gonna make that stain go away. Just go ahead and get that over with, it's actually a gift that's good for you as well. 

Happy Holidays from Mom and me to all that read this blog. Mom is recovering well from her recent hip surgery and appreciates all your cards, visits and letters. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Please God hear a grandmother's prayer. Amen

The video above is about a Grandmother's prayer.The video's not that great but the song is good.
My youngest son Eric is being deployed to Afghanistan. Both his grandma's are praying for him everyday. My husband and I find great comfort in that.  I believe God hears Grandmother's and Mother's prayers because they are so sincere.

My mom prays every night for about an hour before she falls asleep. Her prayers are mostly about her family and loved ones.

I promised my mom a long time ago that I wouldn't keep secrets from her because she's old. She didn't like the idea of not being made aware of things.  Even though it's sometimes difficult, I seldom keep anything going on that is significant from her. Everyone doesn't feel that way. I know of a family at Mom's nursing home who still hasn't told their mother that two of her children have passed. they just choose not to upset her. That's ok for them but even if I tried, I'm not that good at keeping things from my Mom.

When there is something going on, Mom will follow up and ask about it every once in awhile. "Did that boy ever start talking to his father?" , " Did she ever decide what to do about her baby?" "Did he ever get a job?" Why does she continue to ask? Because she is still praying fervently for a positive outcome! She's also so happy and very grateful when God has answered her prayers.  Any one reading this would  know that Dan and I are as proud of our son as we can be. But we are also very concerned for our son,  as all parents of a deployed soldier would be.

When I first told Mom that Eric was being deployed. She said, " If anyone will come home ok, it will be Eric. He's smart and steady and God will take care of him."

It's so wonderful to know that she's there every night, praying for him. Every soldier and soldier's family should know that someone like their Grandma is praying for them. We are lucky to have wonderful Grandmother's praying. Thank God that we still have Mom around. I'm not certain I could deal with this  without her.

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"I wish I could die!" Please don't say that. "Why not?"

A wonderful picture of my loving brother Johnny and my adorable almost always happy Aunt Blanche.  Let's face it , MOM wouldn't want me to even take a picture of her right now much less post it. 
 Mom has been complaining for 5 weeks. She has a UTI and 2 compound fractures in her spine. Very common issues for an elderly woman. They were being treated but she also had to be changed to a lift because of her weakness when being transported. She hates a lift because it takes away "the toilet" and changes her routine.  She could not be distracted from her misery, not even on her birthday, not even to comfort me when I started to cry about my son being deployed, not even when I bought her a new outfit. This was not the loving, caring, mother that I know and love . Her demeanor had changed significantly. She just kept saying she wished that she could die. I'd say, "Please don't say that ." She'd say " Why not?"

This started a long list of meetings formal and informal to find a solution to her unhappiness. I met with the supervisor, the administrator,psychologists, social workers, physical therapists, nurses and nurse aids. Some felt there may be no solution, So pretty soon, I started to feel as though few people there wanted to see me coming. They didn't say so, but...frankly I didn't blame them. I have a feeling a new name for me around the Wesleyan could be "daughter downer."

Last week, the 4th week, one of the nurses trying to figure out something to relieve her and me,  thought of putting her in a rock and go Wheel Chair. It's much bigger, more room, looked more comfortable. I said, "Go for it!" Unfortunately, Mom got worse. She hated the chair, hated that she had to be moved from her usual table at meals, hated every little thing about it. The nurse supervisor called me the next day and said, "She hates it and wants to get out of it, do you want to keep her in it?" I thought about it and said "I think she looks much more comfortable, it's just the change she doesn't like, let's keep her in it for awhile and revisit it after the weekend." When I got there that evening, Mom was livid. " I hate this chair, get me out of it, I want nothing to do with it! I hate that table , I want to go back and sit with my friends at my old table. This chair rocks and that gets on my nerves. I just wish I would die!"

 That's when I saw the opportunity!! You know, one of those Oprah Winfrey Ahh Haa moments!  I said, "Mom, they can't make changes like this over the weekend. The supervisor has to tell the staff to give you back your old chair. On Monday, I will ask for your old wheel chair back but you must promise something. You must be happy! If I get your chair back, will you be happy then?" There was a moment of silence. She considered it and then answered, "Yes." I reminded her of this every time she complained about the Rock and go chair over the weekend.

Yesterday was the first day with her old chair back, she also got moved back to her routine dining table and friends. Is she happy? Well maybe not thrilled, but there is a definite improvement! A noticeable improvement!

I hugged her as I left and said , "I love you Mom." She patted me and said, "I love you too!" :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

How'd you get here? Sisters Reunite

"How'd you get here?" 

It was one of the sweetest moments I've ever experienced. In fact, every time I  think of it, my eyes tear up. My cousin Kimberly brought my 95 year old Aunt Blanche on a plane from Washington State to reunite with my mother, Nancy. This was not an easy task and frankly I don't know anyone else who would have ever even thought of it except Kimberly.  Blanche is mostly blind, and lives in an Assisted Living in Washington State. My mother Nancy, 88 years old and a stroke victim lives in a nursing home in Texas. Blanche & Nancy are the last surviving of 6 sisters. They hadn't seen each other in at least 30 years! It all started with Kimberly reading this blog! (I knew I was writing this blog for some reason..)  Kimberly started reading the posts to Blanche. Kimberly could relate to it  because she is "Caring for Blanche." Before we knew it, she called and said, "Ahhh shoot, it's only money, I'm just gonna bring Grandma to Texas to see her sister!"  We were all amazed that they would or could make such a trip. Mom was not warned of Blanche's trip to Texas. She would have gotten too anxious about it and let's face it, with people their age you never really know what 
might happen. That's why it took a little convincing for Mom to recognize her sister Blanche in this video.  Several of my cousins from Oklahoma and other areas of TX came to experience this touching moment as well. I can not even express the gratitude I feel for Kimberly making this happen. Also,words could never express this special moment in their life and for all of  us who were there to see it.  The video does it better. Enjoy.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The results are in, Father's day survey.

 I did a quick informal survey , asking 20 elderly residents 3 questions. Did you have a good father? What made your father good? If you could say something to your father today, what would you say?

Question #1 " Did you have a good father?" The answer was unanimous: "Yes, my father was good." 

 Perplexing to me, there was no whining and complaining about whether their father's gave them enough quality time, whether he was sensitive to all their feelings, whether he ever hurt their pride in an argument or didn't support them in a decision they made. They didn't cry about whether or not he gave them money for college or hobbies or took them to Disney World. They didn't complain about how their father didn't give them the opportunity to succeed at something or enhance some talent they had by sending them to a special camp or school. NO complaining that he didn't buy them a car or help them buy their first home or pay off their college loan. They didn't tell me that their father was unfaithful to their mother or that he spanked them too hard or too often. The answer was simply "yes". I searched for negativity and boo hoos, probed a bit, trying to get a different answer , find some ill will, but no luck. No resentful judgemental feelings or statements. The answer was simply "yes'.

My humble unprofessional interpretation of this all agreed result is this:  Fathers are certainly not always good but by the time you have lived a long life, most likely been a parent and grand parent yourself , made your own many mistakes along the way and grown to an age where you can look back on it all, you will probably believe your father was good. How can this relate to those of us who aren't that old yet? (Concentrate on your father's good points and for God's sake, get off your high horse and give the guy a break!)

Question #2. "What made your father good?"

Again the answers to this question were also all very similar. "He worked hard!"

Darlene smiled as she remembered,"My dad was a fireman all his life , he worked long hard hours and when he wasn't doing that, he did lots of other odd jobs to support us."
Tears welded up in Bills eyes as he answered, "My father worked long hard hours in the field on our farm, never giving himself a day off but Sunday for Church."

In their time, men were expected to work hard and do whatever they needed to do to support their families. Mother's stayed home and Father's worked. Even though this may have changed a bit, even in 2012, most people would appreciate a hard workin man who did whatever was needed to put some food on the table. 

The other most common answer was ""He was strict, but loving and he disciplined us when we needed it." Elderly people look back on their childhood experiences and  appreciate the times when  their Dad handed out some discipline and yes, most of them meant , they were spanked .

Question #3 ? If you could say something to your father today, what would you say?  20 out of 20 polled.

"Thank You."

Happy Father's Day.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I'd rather just NOT be sorry.

Mom and I were talking the other day about someone we know. Someone who got angry, lost control and told someone off. Ok it was me.

We were also discussing other similar situations when people we know and people in our family lose their temper. Grandma  Reagan was Irish so I guess we caught her Irish temper. 

We mentioned how my brother gets angry with his kids and grandkids , how my Dad used to lose his temper with us. We talked about people we know (not me this time) and how they are with their relatives and how things are sometimes said that cause people to stay away from their family for long periods of time. How sometimes one bad incident happens and it ends up turning into an angry arguement about everything that bothers you. How a landslide of emotion and angry words all slide out and the next day you feel sorry about saying anything and you really didn't even mean it. How you can carry a sack of emotions around, how it gets so heavy and suddenly dumps out all over the place.

 All of these things, our temper, our heritage, the circumstances, landslides and sacks. They are all just excuses we come up with for angry outbursts. I added, "Well at least, most the time, I don't stay angry for too long. At least I apologize!"

Her response? "I'd rather just not say it and just NOT be sorry."

(And she wonders why she's still around.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Waste not, Want not. I don't wanna sew!

Something I've noticed about old people lately, they hate to waste things!
For example, in the dining room. There's a rule at the Wesleyan , I assume for sanitary reasons, that the
food being served cannot be put down on the table and taken away until the end of the meal. Often, the elderly person doesn't notice the desert cup or yogert that is sat down beside their plate by a server. They shake their head no when they see it and the determination to get someone to eat it begins.

They don't want it but they want someone else to eat it. I can't count how many times in the last few years, I have been literally begged to eat food that was sat down without being asked for or desired. Sometimes I take it and hide it behind the fake flower dining room table centerpiece.

A few weeks ago, Mom wanted me to sew up a hole in her red sweat pants. Mom won't wear anything with a hole torn in it, even if it's in a place it doesn't show.  She kept begging me to take the pants home and stitch them up. Thinking she would forget about it in time, I just took them home and threw them away.

Every couple of days like clock work, "Did you sew up my red pants?"  While shopping , I saw a new pair of red sweatpants. Problem solved! "What happened to my other pair?" she asked in dismay.
Yesterday, she asked me to sew up a tear in her OLD OLD blue pockadot shirt. "Mom, I dont wanna sew! You know I hate to sew! I've got a job, a son with a broken ankle, a house to clean, a workout at the gym, a class at Church. I don't even own a needle! I have no thread! I don't wanna sew! I'll buy you a new shirt!"

"Well it would only take 5 minutes to sew up that shirt, Ann." she responded sadly.

My neighbor sews. Wonder how much she would charge me?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ask yourself these questions, Do you qualify as a wife?

From the book"The Christian Girl" published in 1963. "Ask yourself these questions. Do you qualify as a wife?" These are the questions, "Am I domestic in my tastes?", "Can I cook." and "What kind of temperament do I have?"

Sunday at my church, I noticed a table of books and a sign that said "free books". Within one minute, a book caught my eye. It was a book written by Mamie Hayhurst. It was a series of lessons taught in many Churches in the early 60s to teenage girls. As I looked at it, several senior women noted , "Oh, yes I remember that bible class book ! It was very popular!" Why did this book named "The Christian Girl" catch my eye? Because Mamie wrote it. Mamie married my Grandpa Whitten (Mom's father)after my Grandma died. It was a brief marriage mostly for companionship and was cut short by just plain old age. Neither could really take care of the other anymore. I had often heard that she wrote "The Christian Girl" from relatives. It was utilized for teenage girls bible classes all over the USA.

Looking through it, I realized that this series wouldn't go over well in 2012. Activities included making a scrap book. Front Cover, top right hand corner, picture of the girl. Title "The Girl Becomes a Woman." Page 1: Paste a picture of a bride. :) Whoa, wonder what kinda reaction that would get in 2012! "Is that it?' "Our only choice?'
Other qualities encouraged in this class, are two words my generation never really picked up on all that well. They are being submissive and having a quiet spirit. In reality, men are also told in the bible to submit to their wives. ( Had to add that here, it's sort of a natural reflex.)  Anyway, it wouldn't go over well today in a teenage girl Bible class but in reality, we all know that our divorce statistics would not be as high if women and men didn't insist on our own way all the time. Additonally, who's gonna argue that it's kinda hard to live with a loud overbearing, nagging ... ? Irreconcilable differences is what we like to call it. No fault divorce. Back then, they had the nerve to tell people to submit to one another. A novel concept, I guess.

Mom and I often have these same conversations.  "Don't you have to get dinner on the table?" Mom asks. "Are you going to travel by yourself? Isn't Dan going to go with you?" "Did you get Dan's ironing done?"  I've learned not to  answer these questions with women her age and just to smile instead. Answering "Well I guess he will get dinner some way or another sooner or later." results in a very worried expression. Why worry her? Mom and other nice ladies her age had wonderful long lasting marriages. I'm not going to argue with their success.. In fact, it wouldn't hurt me to take on a more quiet spirit. I've decided to work on that.  No, I'm not going to start ironing.

I wonder if there was ever in history a bible class for teenage boys that taught submission, and being gentle, quiet and kind to their future wives? hmmmm.

Nancy Wright 2/2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

It's never too late to find love.

Is it ever too late to fall in love?

I ask around the Westleyan and the majority of Senior citizens who live there said no. No, it's never too late to find love. One of Mom's good friends, a wonderful lady who's still quite a charmer said it this way. "You never know when it could happen and if and when it does, you should just be open to it, no matter how old you are."

Mom thinks it is too late for her. " I still think of your Father all the time. I wake up at night and I think he's right here. Something happens to me and I wish I could tell him." Her and Dad were married for 65 years. That's a mighty long time and lots of valentines days. Every once in while an older gentlemen flirts with her though. There was a former dentist with a nice smile that would say, "There you are! Such a beauty! How is my girlfriend today?" Mom would get this sort of surprized confusing look on her face and then just the slightest giggle. Unfortunately, he was like my father and didn't last long there. She still mentions him from time to time . She misses him . All women like to be flirted with whether they are old or young or if it's going anywhere or not.
Another lady I know has run the gambit of boyfriends at the nursing home. In fact, she went through a slew of husbands before she came there and now she's still going strong. Every once in a while, she drops one old love struck guy for another and it's as dramatic as high school. I was curious as to her response to my question, "Why of course not! My last husband was 15 years older than me but he was still going strong. He didn't even have to use Viagra !"

Too much info, Arleen, a little too much info. :)

Most people tell me they just wish they would have been a little more appreciative of their love because for many older people , their loves have moved on. And by chance if love comes their way again, they would appreciate it more.
Or as Don Henley of the Eagles put it, "If you find somebody to love in this world, You better hang on tooth and nail."
So for Valentines day, I hope you appreciate those you love now, not later. I love you Daniel Thompson! You are my happily ever after. I'm still hangin on to you!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Anxiety it's contagious!

Me and my grand nephew ! We just can't stop crying.
Among stroke survivors, feelings
of anxiety are common. Often, stroke
survivors suffer from both depression and
anxiety at the same time.

A stroke patient whose personality tends towards anger and depression, or whose personality changes radically, can leave care givers feeling angry and resentful. This anger at times turns into guilt ("How can I be angry at her? She's the one who's sick . . . ") which can result in increased stress and depression.

(The information above is copied from research on Anxiety.) Here's my take on it!

Mom didn't come to my house for Christmas this year. After bringing her for Thanksgiving, I finally decided that taking her outside the Wesleyan isn't worth the struggle. Taking Mom out for holiday events has become a problem. She has to be transported in and out of the car and the house.  It wears her out and she becomes too anxious. She doesn't enjoy it and because of this, I become very anxious. It's contagious!

 I paid to have Mom transported to my house in the Wesleyan van for Thanksgiving. This plan would solve the alternative of bringing her in my car and having family members get her in and out .

But the anxiety started days before the trip. "It's my bath day, if I'm not here, I won't get my bath." "Yes you will get your bath, I will let them know you are coming to my house and they will give you a bath in the morning." Mom shaking  her head , determined this would not happen,"My bath time is  at 2 in the afternoon, not in the morning." Over and over and over, we kept having this conversation.  Everyday, I would reassure her that she would actually, really , beyond a shadow of a doubt , get her bath in the morning.

Of course, they did give her a bath in the morning before she left.

Then we had to deal with,"What am I going to wear?" , "What will I eat?.", "What if I have to go to the bathroom?" None of my answers to these questions made her any less anxious .

I did forget one thing. Mom has to have a thickener in her drinks. After she got here, we didn't have it so I just gave her some milk. It was the thickest thing I had and if she holds her chin down, she can successfully drink it without choking. I gave her things to eat, like mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.  She can eat soft things with no problems.  The plan was for her to stay 3 hours and she stayed for about 3 and a half. The person coming to get her was a little late. Mom got very anxious waiting for the van. This made me anxious so I called to make sure they were on their way. "Mom's becoming anxious, are you on your way/' I said... anxiously.

The next day, I went to visit Mom and several of the nurses told me that when she came back, her anxiety level had risen so bad, she was just crying and shaking all over.  I was told that she said I didn't give her anything to drink and she was so thirsty. She said that there was nothing she could eat at my house either and was left there way too long. One nurse (of whom I've never really gotten along with ) said bluntly to me," Perhaps you should be less concerned with having her with you for Thanksgiving and consider how your Mom feels about these outings."  I anxiously went out to my car and cried.

For Christmas, my family just went to the Wesleyan and visited her. This was better for Mom. I also talked to her doctor and they increased her anxiety prescription. This could be a good thing, or it might make her so relaxed she's zombie like and can't communicate. ( It's not my first walk around this block, ya know).

I ask Mom what her New Year's resolution was and she said, "Patience."  I said, "Mine too! " Isn't that a coincidence!

Happy New Year!