Things I Think
Ever tempted to lose your faith in the essential goodness of human nature? Worried that our country is irreparably divided? A flight across the country with a group of iconic war heroes from long-term care facilities can do wonders for restoring one’s faith in humanity and hope for the future.
A friend of mine had grown concerned about the condition of her mother, who is a resident at a skilled nursing facility in another state. It tears at her heart being so far away, and she doesn’t get there nearly as often as she’d like. One experience in particular didn’t help.
In an ego-driven, impermanent world where possessions masquerade as precious, every genuine human interaction matters and no effort is ever wasted. The kitchen has been swept and the broken remains of that cheap Texaco glassware long ago discarded, but my last conversation with Fran will nourish my heart forever.
When I ask rehab patients about the precipitating event that brought them to therapy, they can at least answer the question. Maybe they tripped on a zucchini vine, slipped on a grape in the grocery store or toppled off a bicycle while swerving to avoid a raccoon, but at least they know what happened. Not me.
People often ask me what long-term care is like in Canada.* Trying to keep the peace, I usually answer, “Different.” I choose this passive path because a) I’m Canadian, so it’s genetic, and b) I know how quickly conversations can escalate these days.
Did you know we’re experiencing a global sand shortage right now? Please don’t panic, however. This only affects long-term care if your existing properties or future projects require glass or concrete, or if you use computers or one of those new, hand-held phone things.
It sits on the facility reception desk, blinking bright purple as I approach, but somehow escapes my initial notice. After all, I have so very many things — urgent things, funny things, deeply profound things, I’m sure — that desperately need to be shared with that person wearing the headset.
Nothing ever makes me feel more empathy for those we care for than my own occasional reluctant forays into our American healthcare pseudo-system. I just walked a mile in somebody else’s figurative moccasins — and then some.
In the long-term care profession, we exist to provide care to vulnerable seniors, and like the rest of us, they tend to exist 24/7.
I haven’t perched in a tree waiting for Bigfoot, or spent a morning with binoculars in a rowboat on Loch Ness. But I recently had a ringside seat for one of those elusive rehab therapy triumphs — the kind I always hear about, but had never personally witnessed.
You might think you have problems in your long-term care facility. But ask yourself just one question: Would I rather have snakes?
Maybe the real reason some people don’t like gardening has little to do with the time and effort required, the proximity to deadly spiders or the pesky dirt under the nails. Maybe it’s the way it punctures their denial.
Have you ever had a long-term care nightmare? Not the waking kind, where some horrifying facility crisis leaves you muttering, “This is a nightmare.” I’m talking about a real one, the kind that happens deep in your subconscious mind, while you’re asleep in your fluffy-soft bed …
“Coffee may heighten Alzheimer’s symptoms.” That’s the scary headline of a recent McKnight’s article, and I suspect the readership needle on the web traffic meter is jumping wildly and in the red.
“It’s! a! great! day! at Generic Storage Place! (not its real name)” he exuberated. “How can I help you!?!” I thought it was probably a one-time sales charade, but he turned out to be the same in person.
For every long-term care staff member who wolfs meals at your desk while multitasking on important care-related duties, this is my fervent hope and prayer: that the gruesome and disturbing story I’m about to relate will serve as a cautionary warning.
At this point in the search for a cure for Alzheimer’s, each glimmer of hope seems to come with a looming cloud of probable disappointment — and the question, “Will I get it someday?” never seems far from our collective consciousness. Or at least from mine
Every now and then, I wander innocently and foolishly into a complex long-term care topic that makes my brain hurt. This time, it was managed care.
For all you passionate, committed long-term care professionals who chose this career path for only the right reasons, I think I’ve found your kindred spirit.
At the risk of shameless self-promotion, I’m quite sure I’ve just solved one of the great challenges facing long-term care providers — hiring the right frontline caregivers.