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Caught in the middle of conversations

January 14, 2013
by Kathleen Mears
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Many times in my more than 16 years of living in nursing homes I have been in the middle of a conversation between the aides caring for me. Usually they came into my room chatting and just continued. I always felt weird and a bit like an eavesdropper. Sometimes, when I could identify the topic, I paid attention. But most of the time I tried to ignore it.

Aides usually talk about things specific to their job. But at times they talk about news stories or local news. When they are talking about something familiar to me, I am more comfortable and I am more likely to ask questions. Otherwise, I am quiet until the conversation ends.

I wonder if aides ever think the resident feels uncomfortable being in the middle of their conversations. I realize some residents are unable or unwilling to converse with the aides, which causes periods of silence. So, their conversations fill in the silences.

There have been a few times when the aides' conversation turned to sexual matters. Usually, it started with general kidding. But sometimes the sexual kidding was turned towards me. Then, I usually laughed and tried to make a joke.

Younger aides are more likely to carry on continuous conversations maybe because they are not long out of the high school and are used to such behavior.

Last night Ben and Sandy (pseudonyms) came in to get me ready for sleep. Ben was distracted and was slow in assisting Sandy with caregiving. He tried over and over again to start up a conversation with her. She was frustrated and was trying to concentrate on doing care. Afterwards, she told me she felt uncomfortable with Ben's behavior.

I think aides realize when they can converse comfortably while doing care and when they cannot. I do not think they have to only converse with the resident they are caring for. But I find it refreshing when they do.

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Kathleen Mears

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Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...