Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas Ideas for wiser more experienced people. (meaning "OLD")

Christmas Ideas for that wonderful loving wise and experienced person in your life. (meaning "OLD")

The best present you can give to someone elderly is your time and patient undivided attention.

If possible , take them out Christmas shopping or out to see Christmas lights. Elderly people often have no way of getting out to go Christmas shopping and it makes them feel terrible that they can't be involved in the best part of Christmas,  the giving part. Even if you just go to Wall Mart or the Dollar store and get Christmas hand towels or something else inexpensive, it still makes them feel better. You can also assist them in the wrapping. If they can't get out for health reasons,  you can always go buy some beautiful cards, and assist them with writing the notes and addresses and sending them out to their family and friends. My mother enjoys this very much. She had a stroke so I just write for her what ever she wishes to say. Also, my Mom always feels sad if she can't give me anything, so she gives me $15.00 or so from her account at the nursing home and I go and get something for myself , wrap it up and open it up in front of her on Christmas. I know that may sound silly but I've noticed it gives her great joy.
Just think about it! Can you imagine , spending a Christmas without giving anyone you love a gift? We often forget that.
Other Christmas ideas:

Bring your kids: Elderly miss the wonderful times when they had babies and grandchildren to enjoy. Seeing little children, even if they are stranger's kids, brings them joy. Even seeing your rebellious teenager makes them happy. There's a 2 fold blessing here! . One of the best things you can teach your children is not to be afraid of sick and elderly people. Don't worry about how they act in the beginning. If you take them around the elderly often when they are young, they will make friends and grow into more compassionate and kind grown ups.

Bring your pets. With some exceptions, most elderly people miss having a pet. Bring calm well mannered pets to visit.
If you do, you will find that you are the most popular person there and they will make certain all their friends and neighbors see the pets too. It's a fun time for all.

Bring a Christmas movie or old family Christmas videos and watch them with your elderly friend or relative. Talking about everyone in the family and how it used to be is a precious time for them and it's also a blessing to hear the stories that come up from watching these movies. Very interesting stories you may have missed in your family heritage.

Gift ideas: Shower gels & lotion are always appreciated but not in a huge bottle. Huge bottles are hard to deal with.
My mom loves Bed , Bath and Beyond shower gels. She likes the way they smell and lather up nicely.

Socks: I like the real soft socks for diabetics sold in pharmacies but really any nice soft white socks will do.  Don't give the real short sport type sock or real high knee socks, I've noticed most elderly men and women do not like these. Just simple ankle type socks are good.

Clothes: Find out their size first and it's always best to be a little big rather than a little too small. Mom and her room mates always like to get a festive comfortable holiday looking sweatshirt or sweater to wear during the holidays. Make sure it has a roomy neckline so it doesn't mess up their hair. Long sleeves are always best. If you haven't ever noticed, sleeveless shirts are not attractive on elderly women. Sweat pants are the best pants to buy. If not sweat pants then at least elastic type pants, zippers and buttons make things difficult.

Hats, Scarves and Jewelry are great if they wear these kind of things but don't buy expensive things. These get stolen in nursing homes and that's just upsetting to everyone involved.

Happy Christmas giving and here's the biggie!

If they were not that great of a parent, forgive them and tell them so and how much you dearly love them. Also, add in that other person in your family that you haven't forgiven. Do it, get it over with and tell them you have done so. It adds so much happiness to the holiday season for everyone involved.

Merry Christmas from Mom and me!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Recipes for Life

The holidays are coming up and I like to give homemade gifts.  I  decided to do some canning. This happens  every 5 years or so. It's like having a baby or a doing a garage sale, it takes awhile for me to forget how much pain or time it took to do it.

My mom used to can every year but it wasn't because she necessarily enjoyed it.  My Dad always grew a big garden and she didn't want to waste it. They would annually get into an argument about how he grew all this stuff and then drug it through her clean house and plopped it all down in the kitchen sink for her to can.
Loved the dill pickles! I ask Mom about it, but unfortunately she's 90 years old and doesn't remember  recipe details anymore. So out of the cabinet came the recipes.  Rather than  looking it up on the internet or saving the recipes in a word file, the pre-internet women  just wrote or typed each one down and stuck it in a box. After getting them all out, I thought that perhaps I should get them in order , organize them ,  type them and put them in a word  folder. They were after all kind of a mess.
Other than recipes , I found  little blessing and memories. Old notes from my kids written on recipes that I had left out on the counter. "Went to Jakes. Don't worry Mom, I did my homework. Be home by 6:00." A recipe for sugar cookies written by my Grandma. My grandma never went to school but wrote fairly well and always signed her last name only . She just signed it "Whitten". A stack of recipes, Mom typed and gave to me when I got married. She obviously knew I was completely clueless regarding cooking from these recipes. They were simple recipes, like spaghetti or meatloaf.  She was right though, I WAS completely clueless. I also found these little tips written down in mom's writing in a variety of locations.  They were interesting so I'm sharing them with you.
  1. Sciatic Attack: Potassium, remember it helps to ease the pain.
  2. Cold sores: dab a painful blister with Pepto Bismal every few hours.
  3. Bee Sting: Make a paste with baking soda and water and dab it on the bite.
  4. Sunburn: Baking soda in bath water, let it dry on the skin, no towel.
  5. Swimmers ear: equal parts of alcohol & vinegar, use eye dropper.
  6. Black scuff marks on the floor: Use petroleum jelly on a cleaning rag.
  7. Dirty Blinds: Use a clean paint brush, it's cheaper than buying expensive blind cleaning tools.
As for my pickle recipe, I found it in several locations, typed and written down. One of the written down ones made me smile, scribbled on the bottom, it said , "Clean up John's mess." :)
Organize these? No way! What was I thinking? I can't throw this stuff away.  Good memories don't come in word files.



Monday, September 9, 2013

The Higher Ups, they probably went to Grad School but sometimes they are still just stupid.

Mom in her new napkin.
When I see something stupid regarding elder care, I always get curious as to who made that decision or created that rule.
The answer is usually "The State" or "The higher ups." These people are the main culprits everyone blames for stupidity in elder care.

Here 's an example of how "Common Sense"  does not grow in every one's garden.

Before a few weeks ago, Mom and her friends would get a nice large bib made of towel material to put around their neck to cover and protect their clothing while eating. This nice user friendly bib had a piece of  Velcro to stick together and most residents could put it on themselves. Often these bibs were comfy and warm, just taken out of the dryer. I've often heard residents put on the nice warm soft comfy bib and sigh "awww" because it feels nice. It is not required so if they do not want a bib , they do not request one. I've never heard anyone complain about this in 4 years of going to see Mom.

Suddenly, these bibs were replaced with little small stiff cloth napkins. There's nothing to wrap around their neck or anything so they just have to stuff it in the front of their shirt. It cover a tiny area and you can imagine watching them all try to stick it there and how it keeps falling out. Most the dropped food gets all over their clothes. Food is dropped regularly because many residents like my mom  had a stroke and only have one hand to eat with. In Mom's case ,she's right handed and can only use her left hand.

So, after hearing most everyone complain about it, I asked around to find out who took the bibs away. "The higher ups" decided it was "undignified"  for the elderly to wear bibs. In this case the "higher ups" could have also been "The State" because they had come the week prior to this stupidity.

So now we are all so happy that the elderly residents at the Wesleyan  all feel so dignified as they fumble around sticking the napkin back up in their shirts or just give up and throw it down on their laps  and spill food all over their clothes? I don't think they would feel so distinguished without those tomato sauce stains . ( I'm rolling my eyes here. )


Other dense decisions I've seen by the higher ups:
Requiring that everything in the elderly residents drawer be packaged separately in a zip log bags. (That only lasted a couple of weeks.) Thank God for small favors.

I could go on and on but I think the people who read this blog are smart enough and have experienced "Higher ups" or "the State" before and understand that sometimes you just have to shake your head and sigh. I guess the higher up you are, the more mistakes your allowed to make. That must be it!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mother's day survey

Did an informal survey around the nursing home about  Mom's for Mother's day.These are the results.

The average number of children is 7. Yes, believe it or not 7 was how many babies women had back then.  I know God made us able to have more kids than women have today but 7? I can't even imagine it!! Neither can my body!

The 100% answer of people Mom's age when asked to describe your mother? "She worked hard."
Most of them described their mother's working just as equally hard as their fathers at home on the farm or in family business.
I did talk to some people who's mother's were divorced or single and they worked hard too but outside the home in low paying jobs. It seems those who had single or divorced mothers got help from relatives but didn't have a lot of choices so they were poor and often didn't really date or marry ever again. Naturally, my first question was, "Well why didn't she just date around and find another guy to help her out?" They tell me this rarely the small Texas towns they came from. Many of the single men in town were either related or only looking for a virgin.  If you lost your were just considered used goods or what they call a "divorcee..pronounced de-vor-say"  Boy, that sucks! 

When I asked my Mom about my grandmother, she described her exactly as I remember her. My mom described her mother as a humble, kind person and a wonderful wife.  She described her as an obedient woman who treated her husband as a lord and master. (Her words exactly or I wouldn't even write it down.) She was subservient .It was my Grandpa's job to deliver the babies naturally and there were sometimes complications. Mother's had a hard life back then and so did their bodies.

Just as mom did, when asked to describe their mother, most those I asked described their mom as a good wife. Although some thoughts concerning mother's have changed today, do we really think we need to be a good wife to be a good mother? They think so  and spoke of how their mother made their father feel valued and special and showed them an example of how a marriage relationship works. Many of them said their family all slept in very close quarters or in the same room so it was hard to hide problems  and parents certainly did not have much privacy. How many women do you know now days who constantly complain about their husbands, poke fun at their manhood and it's sorta like, "Thanks for giving me these babies , now stay out of the way, I'll take care of the discipline and you just bring home a paycheck."  Perhaps it's not being a good  mother to love your children and treat their father like a second class citizen.
 My mom was a very good mother and wife! I wouldn't describe her as the just like her Mom. She did not insist on her way all the time. She did let my Dad put things where ever he desired and quietly move them back where she wished after he left rather than arguing about it.  My mom displayed the characteristics of a good wife closely to the way a good wife is described in the Bible. Proverbs 31:10. "An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels." Her children do rise up and call her blessed.  We always say she was the best mother ever! Although I've had a different kind of life than my mother had, have a different personality and grew up in a different time, if anyone ever tells me that I'm like my mother, it's the best compliment they could give me.

Except for some of those subservient qualities...I think I may have missed out on that part of the gene pool. :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bad Judgement

Bad Judgement

I try to be understanding of those who choose to care for the elderly as their career. They have to have a certain kind of compassion and love for elderly people as well as health care. The physical therapist with Mom in this picture is one of those kind of people.  They have to deal with all those bodily functions, blood, throw know... the list goes on. I couldn't do it.  I would never do it. That said, some people just do it as a job for money and you can tell who they are. This is sometimes referred to as "Bad Judgement." on their part.  

Here's some examples:

Case # 1- Mom broke her hip, had surgery and for awhile ,she had to be in a mechanical lift. It's sort of like a swing and it lifts you from your bed and into your chair. No toilet use. She hates that. The wonderful caring people in physical therapy worked with her and did a very good job at solving this problem by making her strong enough to be able to "transfer" meaning to be able to stand and pivot with help so she can use the toilet. One of her nurse aids started threatening her everyday about it. "Ms Wright, if you don't try harder, you are going to have to go back to the lift." I don't know whether this guy said it just as a way of encouragement or if he's just lazy but Mom didn't like it one bit. This was a case of "bad judgement"  on his part. I was really proud of her because  she just got sick of it and told him in no uncertain terms that she did not appreciate his threats and didn't want to hear them again. With my mom, it's sorta like when you have a kid in school and they are getting picked on. ( It's better for her to put up for herself and solve the problem than for me to bust in and solve it for her. It makes her feel more in control) So I waited to see what would happen. The next day, when asked about it, she said he was doing much better. He said, "You know what?  Ms. Wright, I think you are getting stronger! You have improved!" :) 

Case # 2 One of Mom's room mates had some kind of disagreement with one of the nurses. I found her crying one day stating that this nurse didn't like her. She was very hurt and it had been upsetting her all day. I asked one of the other nurses about the situation, "Why would this nurse  just let this kind sensitive elderly woman stay so unhappy? Why doesn't she just apologize and hug her and tell her she loves her?" The other nurse said, " Do you know that nurse? She will never apologize." So I told Mom's room mate something I always have to remind myself from time to time, "You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world. And there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches." and hugged her myself.   Mom's room mate was moved to another wing shortly there after. This was most likely, "Good Judgement" on someone else's part but still "Bad Judgement" for the unyielding nurse.
Luke 6:37 . "Forgive, and you will be forgiven". (Someday, she may not be forgiven)   

Case # 3 Yesterday, a male nurse came into the dining room and spoke loudly and sternly to one of the residents. It seemed she had gotten into a desk that didn't belong to her and used the phone. This stern rebuke was in the middle of a large crowded dining area.  He said something like, "You KNOW what you did was wrong. YOU got into someones desk , moved around  files that were not your own and used the phone. This kind of irresponsible behavior could jeopardise the care of other residents" This poor old lady was so embarrassed, she just broke down sobbing. He continued this loud reprimand  and didn't slow down one bit until he saw me giving him a really dark dirty look. He got quiet and soon left. There was another nurse there and I shook my head and commented, " I'm sure what he had to tell her was important but he should have had more sensitivity and told her that in a  private place!" The nurse replied, "Yes, you are right. That was "bad judgement" on his part." I think I may have to  dish out some " bad judgement"   on him tomorrow by talking to the administrator. (This woman doesn't have the fortitude to put up for herself like my mother, so she needs someone else to do it.) Guess that's me.

If you see something happen like this happen to an elderly person who can't put up for themselves,  do something about it. It IS your business and it's not just "Bad Judgement". It's abuse. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sophia: A favorite story from Mom's life.

A blog posting really isn't usually this long but Mom told me this story from her life for the Senior ministry newsletter at our Church. It's such a heartwarming story, I'm just gonna post it here too. The story is a story from her many cherished memories working with the Balboa Church of Christ in Panama. Above is a picture from the Balboa Church of Christ Reunion a few years ago. Those who can still get together every 2 years. It was a special time in all our memories.  They are wonderful Christian people. 

My mother, Nancy Wright is 89 years old and lives in the Wesleyan Nursing Home in Georgetown TX. The Senior Ministry at our Church asked for a favorite story from her life.  In the 1970’s she and my father, John Wright served as missionaries in Balboa, Panama. During the years they were there, the Balboa Church of Christ grew in leaps and bounds. This is a story from that time.


One evening, when John and I were in Panama, we were just about to sit down to dinner and we heard a quiet knocking on the door. It wasn’t surprising, we often had unexpected visitors at dinner time. Sometimes it bothered me a little, mostly because I never felt comfortable about how much to cook.  Our home was open to anyone who wished to visit, eat or even stay the night. 

Hearing the soft knocking and knowing I had only made enough for two, I sighed, “Uh-oh, who could that be?”  John walked to the door and peeked into the peep hole. He spied a woman there, turning around quickly to leave. He opened the door and called out to her, “Hello, yes we’re home. Can I help you?”  The attractive middle aged woman was wearing a cotton bandana skirt, a ruffled sleeve blouse and brightly colored headscarf made from calico that mostly covered her black afro.

Looking somewhat embarrassed, she responded “Ella dera.” Obvious by her dress and her accent, she was Jamaican.  John and I were friends with many Jamaican’s in Panama. Their ancestors came to live there as laborers for the Canal. Many of these workers died of malaria and suicide. Most of those who survived continued to live in Panama for life.
“Ella dera, my name be Tamila. I’m sorry to disturb ya, I don’t even know ya but I been told to ask ya.” Always a generous man, John introduced himself and reached into his pocket for some cash. “Nuh, nuh, I don’t come here for no money.  Ma mudda made me come hera. She heard about you and dat Church.” 
John warmly invited her in and shook her hand, “Come right on in Tamila. We’re so very happy to meet you.” Tamila explained the reason for her visit, “My mudda told me to come hera and ask you to come see her. She’s can’t come and talk to you, she’s got 98 years. She just keeps tellin me to come and get ya. She says she gotta see ya. She can’t wait anada day to talk to ya. Not one mo day mon.”

John was curious so he asked, “Do I know your mother? Have I ever met her? What is her name?” Tamila shook her head and said “Her name be Sophia and you never hear of her. She heard about you and dat Church from some of her old friends.” With tired eyes Tamila looked at John, sadly shrugged her shoulders and turned back for the door. “You don’t have to come. I’ll tell her.’’
John was never the kind of minister to hold regular working hours. He wasn’t the kind of person that would turn anyone away. I knew he wouldn’t just let her walk out the door. So of course he said, “Well now, hold on a minute, I’ll go and see your mother if that‘s what she wants.” Since Tamila said her mother was 98 years old, John considered that possibly she was planning her own funeral or felt she needed some kind of last rights prayer. Who knows?  What else could it be?
“Did you walk here?” he asked. “I don’t have no car” Tamila said. “We live in Rio Abaho. De bus come in about an hour” John, looked at his watch and said, “We’ll take my car. I’ll go get my keys.”  “ Would you like me to go? “I asked but didn’t really want to. He probably knew that I didn’t but replied, “No, it’s alright, I’ll be right back, don’t worry, it won’t take too long.”
Rio Abajo was a West Indian neighborhood in Panama City filled with Caribbean people who relocated there centuries ago. The little shanty wood houses in Rio Abaho were painted only on one side and the fences were often covered with tropical purple and white passion fruit flowers.
 When John arrived at Sophia’s house, he smiled as they pulled up. This place reminded him of his childhood in Louisiana. He grew up in shanty wood homes as well but his childhood home memories were on cotton farms, not Panama City. He got out and stepped around all the brown and white skinny looking chickens running at his feet, clucking, hoping to be fed.  It was quiet outside other than the chickens. It was getting dark, he wondered if he was visiting too late.”Do you think your mother is sleeping?” Tamila rolled her eyes at John as if she were a teenager, sick of having to obey her mother’s will. “Nuh, nuh, she wait for you to come. She wait all night.”

Tamila took John’s hand and led him into the house. Sophia was sitting on the sofa with her legs crossed like an Indian.  John looked at the old woman and thought she certainly was limber for her age but she couldn’t possibly weigh more than 70 pounds. Her eyes and cheeks were hollow and sunken in, most likely from age and weight loss. Her white grey hair was pulled back from her black little wrinkled face.  Sophia uncrossed her legs and said, “There you are! You be John Wright? I woulda come myself, but I can’t get around nuh mo” 

Sophia picked up the Bible from her lap.  The old Bible was falling apart and matched its owner perfectly. It was worn and tattered and it looked like the chickens outside had scratched all over it. It looked as if it had been Sophia’s favorite book for a long, long time. John and Sophia talked for a while about her Bible studies. She turned to Matthew 3, Acts 2:38 and John 3:16 as well as others verses. Sophia would go through the pages of the Bible and find the verse she wished to discuss. 

John could see that Sophia had studied a great deal. In fact, she knew and could recite the Bible by heart. He smiled and complimented her Biblical knowledge. “Sophia, you know the Bible better than most people, in fact, you know the Bible as well as I do.” He continued, “I can also see that you love the Lord with all your heart and soul.” “I sure do, Mista. John, I love Jesus.” she said.
Still puzzled as to what was so urgent about this and why she called him there, he took Sophia’s feeble little hand in his and he looked into her soft brown eyes through her old reading glasses, “What can I help you with?”  Sophia responded with a long sigh,”uuuhhh, oohh Mista John. I have studied the Bible through an through. I understand it. I hear about you and dat Church. I hear you believe what deh Bible says!” John was happy to hear that because that’s the very best compliment you can give a minister and a Church. Sophia continued “And den I hear you follow it. What deh Bible say, you and dat Church?” she asked. “Why yes we do! We do believe the Bible and we’re not always perfect but we try our best to follow it just as it says.” John leaned back and wondered what was next?
Sophia could barely hold back her excitement. She pressed on the side of the sofa and rose up out of it carefully.  Her tiny body shook to hold itself up. She lifted her hand to her heart as if she were saying the pledge of allegiance and declared, “I believe dat Jesus Christ, is da son of God. I want to be baptized; I wanna wash away my sins. I wanna go undah de wadda…all the way undah ..Like in de Bible.”
John leaned back astonished by Sophia’s request.  She’s too old, she’s too frail, she’s too thin, he thought. I’m not sure we could even do that for someone this age and in this state of health? Not really knowing exactly what to say, he said “I don’t know, Sophia, I just don’t know.”

Sophia carefully sat back down and her daughter came to her. Tamila sighed, shook her head at John and got right down to her mother’s eye level, “Mama Nuh! We already talk about dis. You too old to go in deh watah. Mama you can’t even walk.” Looking over at John, she explained, “You not the first one Mista John. She been askin others. They tell her over and over it’s not necessary” Tamila turned to her mother and sighed,” Mama, its ok …God knows your heart.” In response to this, Sophia started to cry.
John aghast by this predicament, sat there contemplating what a wonderful world it would be if everyone was as urgent as this sincere woman to follow and obey God’s word! Wouldn’t it great if we were all that concerned about our soul? Being the man that he was, he understood her sincere compassion for the word and her deep desire to be with God. He was certain of all of this but unsure if this would be good for Sophia right now.

What can I do?” he asked out loud. “Are you ill? Are you afraid?” “Nuh, I just got da old age.” she answered. “Everybody gonna die, Mista John, nobody knows when de gonna die. You dying, we all dying”
Sophia wiped her tears with the white cotton hanky John offered her from his pocket. John was one of those gentlemen that carried a white hanky at all times just in case someone needed it, a crying baby, a kid with a runny nose, an adult with a cold, or most of all for those who needed a caring listener and a good cry. Sophia waited for an answer. John bowed his head and silently asked God for guidance. After a few moments, he looked at Sophia and winked. “Let’s go get baptized” he said.  The feeble old woman smiled at John with such joy, you could even see a few little teeth still there. John looked over at Tamila for support and said, “God help us.”

That very night, the resolved missionary carried the little old Jamaican woman out to his car and with her resigned daughter, in tow; they went to the house to pick me up.  John decided they needed me to come along as well to help. He walked in our house, and pointed out to the car. “Look out there. You’re not going to believe this.  I’ll explain it all later. I’m going to need your help for this baptism and she wants to do it right now.”
At the church, Tamila and I changed Sophia into the smallest white cotton gown we could find. She looked sort of like a swaddled baby as her wrinkled thin ashy legs, about as big around as your wrist, hung out the bottom of the gown.  John came in and as quiet and gentle as ever, he picked up his new friend into his arms and headed toward the small church baptistery. 
John took a deep breath and sighed as he went down into the water. He kissed Sophia softly on her cheek and asked her tenderly, “Sophia, do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?” “I do.” she said. “I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” John was shivering with love and emotion as he lowered this precious Christian woman into the water, oh so, so, very carefully.
Tamila and I and watched in tears.  When John lifted Sophia out of the water, she started waving her hands in the air rejoicing. She looked so full of energy! It was as if she wasn’t old at all. Like a happy child, she clapped and wiggled around in John’s arms. Then she started to sing, “Oh Happy Day! Oh Happy Day! When Jesus washed my sins away.” She knew all the words to the song and sang all the verses. We all just started to laugh and cry and we sang the song right along with her.

Sophia said it was like she was in heaven already. I’ll never forget it. When all was cleaned up and finished, we left the Church, feeling as though Sophia wasn’t the only one born again. We all felt born again with her. John dropped me off about midnight and took Sophia and her daughter home. Two days later, we got a phone call from Tamila. Sophia had died peacefully in her sleep.
I felt so blessed to have been there that night. I’m so thankful I got to share this precious memory with John. I think of Sophia every time I hear that song and I’m reminded of her sincere desire to be a Christian and not to wait until another day. Oh Happy day! When Jesus washed my sins away.


OH Happy Day.
Written by Philip Doddridge
Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away!
He taught me how to watch and pray,
and live rejoicing every day;
Happy day, happy day,
 When Jesus washed my sins away!