Friday, December 4, 2009

I'm ENRAGED and ready to complain to the state Dept of Health!!!!!!!!!

After visiting Mom this evening, there are not enough colorful adjectives to describe my anger at her ALF, the aids, the management -the whole kit & kaboodle.   As I entered her room the stench of urine was over whelming and just GROSE!  She said she'd noticed it that morning - which meant it smelled BAD all day.  All day and no one there thought to look for the problem? I immediately went looking for the source.   Her commode was in the shower, empty so I cleaned it. That didn't do the trick.  Looking around the bathroom, I noticed an odd looking plunger near the toilet and it bad bits of paper stuck to it.  I picked it up and a pile of wet tissue, poop and urine PLOPPED ONTO THE FLOOR!!   I was ready to blow up right there but didn't want to upset mom. 

This was no ordinary plunger, it's got a very long "bowl" portion that has all kinds of "folds" like an accordian - that means more places to hold urine, feces and tissue.  My first thought was "What a stupid plunger!!"  I just wanted this stench to stop so I filled the plunger with water and dumped it in the toilet - even MORE stuff came out of it.   I rinsed it 4 times until crap - LITERALLY CRAP - stopped coming out of it.   I left the pile on the floor and went down to the nursing station to demand that someone come clean it up -  NOW

The CNA on the floor  had no sense of urgency about cleaning it up which made me even more angry.  I approached her and said "I am ready to BLOW UP, I am so mad right now...."  I explained what I found and what I did.  I told them that the Executive Director should expect a call first thing on Monday.  I did not raise my voice. I didn't want to upset the other residents so I stayed very calm but it was hard, very hard. I was shaking, I was so mad.   I told her about the stench, I told her it had to be there since the morning and that I left a pile in the corner that should be cleaned up NOW.  I got the standard response, "I'll send an aide down there."

30 minutes later, there was no aid and I was even more angry - if that's possible.  I had to leave or I was going to say a LOT of things at decibel levels that everyone would regret.   I stormed down to the nurses station to demand an aide NOW or I was calling the state.  I told them that if it happened again, I'd call the state. This is a matter of health and safety not just bad smells!   What if they'd got it on the floor and Mom walked through it?   An aide followed me back to the room and began to clean while I told Mom good night.

On my way home I called my sister-in-law to vent, my brother answered and after hearing about this told me that there were two other occasions when he noticed the plunger and he cleaned it too.   It didn't "contain" anything but there was paper on it so he figured it needed a rinsing.   I am SO sorry that I selected such a large place for Mom.   There are over 100 residents in this place and it's about 40 too many.   They ned more help and help that is willing to do the dirty work of taking care of other humans.   It doesn't matter if they are old, young, rich or poor - there is poo, pee, vomit, tears, food, smelly feet - all kinds of things to do whether it's a baby or an Elder.   BOTH deserve better care and attention than this.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

After 70-ish it's OKAY to lie to your Mom.... or Dad

I've come to feel it's necessary to lie my Mom; and I don't feel guilty about it.   It was hard to get over that guilt but it just makes life so much EASIER for her and thus for me.   Mom lived comfortably because she and Dad had little debt.  Their social security and pension monies were enough to ensure they had plenty and could easily meet the utility costs in their home.    Mom's rent at the ALF has consumed all but $3000 of her savings and I'm about ready to apply for state aid - in her state it's called Medicaide.   Mom would be horrified to take it and that her savings are gone so I lie.
I lie about her money, I lie about the condition of her little old house and I lie about my personal life - all to keep her content and feeling like things are just fine.   Over the past couple of years her ability to comprehend and process complex matters has decreased so I take advantage of that.   "..take advantage.." sounds negative but it's not at all.  Yes, I'm manipulating the situation and taking advantage of her diminished capacity but it's for her own good.   It's all to ensure she doesn't worry.

Often she'll ask me about the utility bills at her house or the property taxes or she'll an ad on TV and want something completely goofy.  I tell her that we paid the bills last week, "We wrote the checks out together."  I tell her that I'll order the object for her and bring it on my next visit.... By my next visit, she's forgotten all about the bills and the goofy object.

I've always been very  honest with my parents and both were very intelligent and able to tackle any complex topic or issue but that's way beyond my Mom now.  By lieing to her, I make her feel that things are just fine so she doesn't worry.  For her, it's very important not to worry.  As an epileptic she easily has anxiety attacks which will trigger a grand mal seizure which could be deadly at her advanced age.  Mom is still intelligent and curious and I'm happy that she is easily distracted by TV - the Animal Planet, How it's Made, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel and such...  I lie to her and she happily goes back to her programs to feed her brain and I feel good that she's content.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Old feet have special needs

Update: 12/18/2011:  another entry old caring for old feet
Update: 3/20/2011:  Please look at the comment section for some specific ideas on caring for old feet.

Original entry Oct 2009:
As a great display of respect and humbleness Christ washed the feet of his disciples.  There's a good reason why it was considered such a respectful act - feet were GROSE.  Feet are still grose but in Christ's time, it was even worse. Ancient people had less access to water and soap, shoes were basically sandals, and who knows what they walked in given that transportation was done with animals not gas-powered vehicles.   Last night I helped mom with a difficult task  - I washed her feet and cut her toe nails.   For elderly people cutting toe nails is often physically impossible and it's hard to find a foot doctor willing to do it. Our Elders are too stiff to bend down that far or pull their legs up that close.  Toe nails are often thick and really, really tough to cut.   Foot doctors, or podiatrists, used to cut toe nails but due to cuts in payments by medicare, medicaide and private insurance they say they make no money on the procedure.   

I've done this for my Mom for a long time and I'm the only one she really trusts to do a gentle job.  To start, I soak Mom's feet in warm water with epsome salts -  no soap or lotion added because that can cause dryness if I don't rinse it off well.   Epsome salt also has mild antibacterial qualities. The water can't be too warm and what's warm to me is hot to her.   Once her feet have soaked for about 10 minutes, I leave one foot soaking while I sit on a small stool and gently work on her feet.   I ease a wash cloth between her toes and delicately move it back and forth like floss to clean between her toes.  This is especially important because you don't want to leave this area damp and you want to remove all the dead skin or lint from sock and slippers.   To clip her toenails I use both flat and rounded clippers, it depends on the nail. I also use files to smooth the nails on top and picks to remove anything between the sides of the toe nails and her flesh.

Let's face it - feet are smelly and ugly but this is a necessary task for the health and well being of our Elders.   We need to be open about these basic elements of hygiene - toes, hands, skin, bottoms, ears and heads.  I'll bring these out of the bathroom so to speak and discuss each in detail here.  Though often overlooked, these are important to the well being and good care of our Elders.   It makes them feel better and what makes them feel better enhances their quality of life.