Monday, June 19, 2017

June 18, 2017: The Denizens of the "Home"

The first week that I was here in the home I could not get into a wheelchair.  The activity calendar listed most of the activities as being in the rotunda.  I couldn't wait to get out there.

The rotunda is actually small and is the hub of the 5 hallways here.  It is round but calling it a rotunda is a bit of a stretch.

There are several patients who hang out at the rotunda.  The nurses must take them there hoping that they will socialize a little bit.  These people are pretty out of touch with reality.  Mostly they hang down their heads and nap.  One dude sits there calling out "Can I talk to you?  Excuse me..."  He is trying to get one of the workers to talk to him.  He then asks them things like "when's lunch,"  "what time is it" etc.  At least he interacts.

I have to go through the rotunda to get to the therapy room and dining room.  One day while I was in therapy a woman (Liz) came in looking for someone to draw her a salmon.  I volunteered and now she and I hang out together - have lunch together in the dining room, play bingo.  It's nice to have a friend here.  She's getting the boot on Wednesday also.  Medicaid is sending her to a less expensive facility.  She had heart surgery and also has a broken back.  I hope her next place treats her well.

Liz seems to know everyone here.  She even talks to the patients who don't seem to be lucid.  But they are happy to get some attention.  I try and be pleasant to everyone but I'm not as patient as Liz.

There is a lady at the end of my hallway who must live here full time.  Her room is very decorated.  She even has her Christmas tree up in there.  She can't seem to figure out how to use her call light.  So, she just hollers out - "I want my light off,"  "Please turn on my TV."  She has a loud gravelly voice.  The staff are very patient with her.  I've heard them repeatedly explaining the call button to her.

I spoke to  her one day and she told me she had a boyfriend.  The next night the 2 of them were having dinner together.  He sits with his head hanging low.  He raises it to yell out answers to her questions.  He looks terrible - skinny and decrepit.  I overheard her tell him that she couldn't keep her eyes off him.  Oh my!  Another time, in his very loud voice, he started talking about his penis.  It must be true what I've heard about nursing homes.  It's full of sex maniacs.

I truly hope I die before I get as demented as those 2 lovebirds.

I suggested to the activity director that we have a lucidity club.  We could get together and play games or just talk.  She said that she's tried that in the past but didn't get much of a positive response.  Most of the lucid people have their meals in their rooms and stay to themselves.  I think it's because of the stigma associated with being a patient in a nursing home.

It's too bad.  I think getting together would lift everyone's spirits and help pass the time.

Another woman, C, used to walk around all the halls with a big smile on her face.  She thought she lived here permanently.  But, she found out that she has to leave on Wednesday also.  Now she is so worried.  She says her kids treat her like she is crazy.  She has told me how she is worried about her dog several times now.  I closed my door to keep her out.  But she came in anyway and started up on her dog worries again.  She needs some reassurance from her grown children.  I don't think she is getting it.

Liz and I now eat dinner with a pleasant guy in a big neck brace.  He had to have some of his vertebrae fused in his neck.  He has a hard time swallowing.  He had a couple of surgeries and they left him weak.  He has to wait for someone to push his wheelchair back to his room.

The dining room was very depressing until I started eating with Liz.  The patients who need lots of help are gathered there.  Some need to be spoon fed, some refuse to eat, some keep trying to get up out of their wheelchairs.  It's unfortunate that the lucid people don't get together for meals.

I wanted to write about the patients before I leave here and the memories fade.  I hope I stay lucid when I have to be a permanent nursing home resident.  The confused patients seems so worried and unhappy.  The future is scary.  I think we should be able to make a legal document in which we can ask for an easy death before our dementia becomes too bad.  It's crazy how our society doesn't let us at least choose when we die.  There will soon be so many baby boomers with dementia.  It will be hard to give all of us the necessary care.  If some of us would like to leave this world, I think we should be able.


Bonnie said...

Yes, those are very sad places -- my Mom lived in one for the last five years of her life. It was her choice -- I would rather have had her live with me, but she didn't want to leave the town she had lived in for so long.

Ann Babbitt said...

I agree with you Joanne, but as long as people are making money off of other peoples misery the status quo is unlikely to change.
Medicare or Healthcare for all is the most humane way to go. It has worked in Canada and other countries for many years, and Canada has excellent nursing homes.