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Excitement happens every day in the nursing home…

November 29, 2010

(Scroll Down for a funny photo!)

I do a lot of “Extended Care” which means attending with my preceptor at a few institutions where cognitively and physically impaired, mainly elderly, patients live. These places  house a range of people, from those who need a little help with daily living tasks to those who may suffer from such dementia that they require complete ‘complex’ care or need to be in a locked home so they don’t wander.

These places have organized activities – sing-a-longs, bingos, crafts, outings, falls-prevention exercise class – and the routine of 3 square meals and tea time. every day. Families visit and take their loved one on walks and outings to nearby restaurants. Staff giggle as 102 year old Mrs Soandso tells them “I don’t remember, I’m old, you know!?”

Some things in Complex Care are very sad; many newcomers struggle with the loss of independence that has brought them to the institution in the first place. Some of the residents don’t remember their families members; fewer recall what they ate for breakfast. Every few weeks, someone who has become a fixture of the place passes away. For the 1000 times that the staff treats a resident with love and care, there is one instance of not doing so. The occasional individual continues to ask, “When am I going home?”

When one’s dementia renders them aggressive or hypersexual toward other patients or their family, it is a tragic thing to watch. Sometimes medication helps, but dementia is a nasty thing.

There are very happy times too. Quite a lot more than bad times, I think. I smile quietly at two shrivelled hands intertwined tightly; at the other ends of the arms are a man and a woman, so cognitively impaired that they forget they have spouses. One thing they are certain of is that they are on the hottest date of their lives!

When families come to care conferences and tell us how pleased they are with the care and how a staff member went ‘above and beyond,’ it’s a highlight for all of us. I personally take great pleasure in stopping medications whose side-effects are bothersome or dangerous for the patient. I also love when the little old ladies (LOLs) sing along in their magnificent voices – even if off key – when a musician comes to visit.

Many of the days I spend there will involve something like this:

On a regular visit, a pleasantly demented little old lady in her low-riding wheelchair grabbed the side of my pants and started tugging on them like a child might.

She said, noticing my name tag, “Dear! Oh, are you a doctor? When are you going to see me about my sore knee?”

I responded “Yes, you’ve got good eyes! I’m Doctor Otte. Well, we saw you about an hour ago, just before lunch!”

“Oh really? Well I’m so old, I don’t know!… Well, what’re you gonna do about it!?”

Gesticulating in a circular fashion “Cream. We have a special anti-inflammatory cream that the nurses can rub on it”

“Oh really?! Okay dear! You know, I’m so old, I forget! Thank you Doctor Oxley!”

“Otte, yep, you are welcome. I hope it helps”

“Dr Okky?”

“Ott-ee”

“Oxley?”

me: “yah.”

. . .

cheerily I say “bye now!” as we head over to the next building.

Walking down the hall in search of the residents who had concerns to discuss with we doctors, I laughed out loud when I saw this, reminded of motorcycles lined up outside a biker bar:

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2010 1:59 am

    Good Job Doc!

  2. November 30, 2010 9:03 am

    Great photo. really funny

  3. December 27, 2010 9:27 pm

    This one made me smile (and even LOL). So many times I see nursing homes for the bad, and not the good. You reminded me, just as my best friend and fellow nurse often does, that they’re not always bad. The good outweighs the bad, and it’s worth every memory…

    • December 30, 2010 4:55 pm

      Glad it had the desired effect. I’m lucky enough to have a pretty goofy preceptor. Can’t recall a day at the nursing home where we didn’t have a hearty chuckle.

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