Honor thy mother and father

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My Mom's biggest fear is that she will get Alzheimer's disease and become a burden to me. I always gently take her hand, look her lovingly in the eyes and say, “Mom, you never have to worry about being a burden to me ... that's why God made pillows!”

OK, I'm totally joking — I absolutely love my mom and she could never be a burden. More importantly, if Mom would ever realize her biggest fear, I would do everything to ensure that I honored her.

What do I mean by that? Well, I know what mom wants. She has a living will and very explicit advanced directives and I will ensure they are followed to the letter. I know what Mom likes and will ensure, should she forget, that I don't.

Mom is a very classy dresser. She has to be “dressed” with her jewelry on, even when going to the mail box or walking the dog. (The jewelry is a must so I'll have to be sure if she does get dementia that she remembers the clothes because we can't have her walking the dog wearing just diamonds!)

She loves having her feet rubbed, a kindness my father has bestowed upon his nurse wife every evening for their life together that he continues today, even though they are both retired. And I will be sure that someone will do it if I can't get there to do it myself.

And mom just adores candy, so if she wants it at every meal to bring her joy, then I say, “Bring on the gummy bears!” And should she ever need long-term care, you bet your butt I'm going to ensure that she is placed somewhere that they understand resident-centered care!

So doesn't it just make you mad as all get out when you see family members who don't give their mom and dad the same respect? You've seen it. Like when your non-diabetic resident with dementia is putting on weight because he wants to eat sweets more than any other food.

And basically, big deal, right? They like it and it's what we can get them to eat.

But “Son” comes in and says to put “Dad” on a diet because he's gaining weight (and we know that cheap so-and-so son doesn't want to buy new clothes). And you want to say, “Listen you little ingrate” — or whatever name is in your mind, but I need to keep this G-rated — “is this what the Greatest Generation fought for, so you could put him on an unnecessary diet to save money? Didn't he upsize your clothes when your behind grew since childhood?”

And, as Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake.” Honor your father!

Oh, and how about when Mom has an advanced directive in place that states no feeding tubes, but some slip-up happens and one is placed in at the hospital and “Mom” is sent back to your facility and you all have to deal with taking out the tube. But “Daughter” says, “Wait, you can't do that, I want everything done to keep mom alive (boo hoo … add crocodile tears). If you take the tube out, I'll sue,” and the next minute you get a call from daughter's lawyer.

(See my first blog entry on balancing regulation and law! “Can I have a lawsuit and an I-J, amen, halleluiah!” And you're like, “How selfish … this isn't about you. Honor your mother!”)

So as nurses in the facility this “stuff” puts us in a precarious situation.  But I have to tell you guys, honor your residents!

This is the generation that fought for us, helped shape this nation, fed us, taught us, nurtured us, waited on us, collectively raised us and we owe them that honor, even if or when they don't know we are doing that.

And if we come to a verbal tug of war with the disrespectful sons and daughters, just think: We can always put their kids on to the “pillow” secret!

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC — a real life long-term care nurse who is also the director of clinical affairs for the American Medical Directors Association. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet.

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The Real Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

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