Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nursing Home Blues Revisited

O.K., I was way too nice yesterday when I blogged about Thanksgiving at my mom's nursing home.  There were things I wanted to say, but I always get in trouble, and I'm so tired of getting called on the carpet at my age.  Am I going to let that stop me?  No.  So here goes.

Things that make me sure I'll just crawl out into the back acres, swallow broken glass and die before I go to a nursing home:

1.  Shower time.  As far as I know, they put you on a chair in the shower and hose you off.  Showers are personal because, well, you're naked for heaven's sake.  I'd shower with my clothes on now if I could.  There are parts of my body I never want to look at again.  I'm glad I can't turn my head far enough to check out my ass.  Unfortunately, I can see my front but if I look at the shower ceiling, all is well.  So, you get hosed off by someone who should return the favor by being naked themselves because that would take away a little of the humiliation.  And this extreme fun only happens once or twice a week.  I shower every day.  I can't imagine making do with sponge baths in between.  No wonder every nursing home resident's hair looks like they just woke up from under the bridge.

2.  Stray hairs.  I pluck those little suckers off my lip every day.  I can't see most of them but I give it a good try and in the privacy of my bathroom.  I looked in my rear view mirror one day right before I was heading to the dentist and in the harsh daylight I found four or five that just jumped off my face.  I actually went to the drugstore to get some tweezers before my appointment. I know it's vanity, but I don't want my children visiting me at the home when I'm sporting a full mustache.  Knowing them, they'll buy me mustache wax for Christmas.  Who can you ask to pluck those suckers anyway?  The nursing home staff will shave you if you ask, but...sputter, gasp...I really don't want to get shaved right after old Mr. Grimes and grumpy Mr. Jones.

3.  Privacy or lack thereof.  Most of the time you share a room, divided by a curtain.  If you fart, you hope your roommate is deaf.  If you cry, because you're so damn miserable, someone sees you and stuffs another Ativan down your throat.  Well, maybe being drugged up isn't a bad plan if you're in a nursing home.  Of course you can throw in number 1, the shower, and add assistance with getting on the john.  No one at this point in my life has had access to the state of my toilet deposits.  I prefer not to share.

4.  The staff.  Let me just say, I love the people at my mom's home, but I have to be honest.  There are folks working in nursing homes I wouldn't let near a dead plant.  Remember, I sell medical uniforms and I wait on them in my store. They give their infants Mountain Dew in baby bottles and they scream at their children like fish wives.  They don't strike me as patient, compassionate, or even remotely literate.  Yes, these are minimum wage jobs, which I find appalling because it's extremely hard work, but if I'm stuck in a home, I can't do much about their working conditions. 

5.  You have to be a nice patient.  This one will be hard for me.  Naturally, everyone likes the pleasant resident who never asks for anything and plays the sweet little old lady role. Think about it.  Do you want to wear a smile all day just to get extra special treatment?  I can feel little blood vessels exploding in my head just thinking about it.

6.  Do gooders.  Church groups love to visit nursing home residents.  They lean over them with their condescending smiles and syrupy sweet talk.  They pat and hug and hand out little church pamphlets.  Sometimes they drag their frightened toddlers with them because old people love to see the children.  I don't want to be patted.  I don't want to frighten children with my sprouting face hair. 

I'm stopping here but I haven't even touched on the food or the wacked out behavior of the other residents.  Let me sum it up.  Living in a nursing home is a cross between "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Groundhog Day."  Need I say more.  Be nice to your children. 


  1. It's so depressing isn't it? My significant other's grandpa just entered a nursing home a month or so ago. He's 101, almost totally deaf, about 75% blind and can't remember who anyone is, so he's overdue I guess for some professional care. But despite how fragile and limited they appear to be those oldies are crafty. I find it odd he can still beat the pants off me at Gin Rummy, for example. It's all a con for free food and a sponge bath from a young hottie. :)


    I'm kidding.

  2. Well the only way I'll end up in a nursing home is if my girlfriend's husband is a lousy shot and only wounds me.

  3. Wait a minute, there must be positives to this gig....Someone cooks for you, your never alone and any action (even bad actions) are not accountable (just chocked up to old age). And they have drugs! (no glasses of wine though). Hell considering the stress of everyday running of the house, I might dribble on my chin for this sweet ride.

    I am sure I am offending people and I am sure I don't mean it.

  4. You know, you three are sick puppies and that's why I love you. Maybe we can be roommates at the home.

  5. Too funny, Judy. I admit I have seriously wondered just WHO will pluck my chin when I can no longer do it myself! Can't see any of my kids stepping up to that job...

  6. Judy, the sad part of your post is that some of the elderly in homes die lonely, slow, painful deaths and all dignity is stripped away. My heart goes out to those in homes but I sure the hell wouldn't patronize them with a pat on the hand or a friggin pamphlet that they couldn't read. I wonder if I'm going to go to hell for this or be condemned to live out my final days in a nursing home, I sure the hell hope not. Just give me enough meds to "die peacefully in my sleep" and set my spirit free... that or they'll have me in restraints most of the time cause I'm not going to let them away with bathing me once a week, I'd rot before I hit the grave. I'm a daily showerer as well.


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