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A resident who helps out feels better about himself

December 5, 2011
by Kathleen Mears
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Melvin (pseudonym) lives a couple of doors away from me. He is round, not very tall and bounces when he walks. He is usually animated and will try to carry on a conversation even if the other person is walking away. When he talks about the Bible and God he can go on and on for hours. Staff will listen until their nerves are frayed and then they have to get away from him. Melvin means well but likes to give his opinion.

Melvin is also diabetic, which may contribute to his hyperactivity—he loves junk food and pop but can only order those items once a week.

Melvin always asks to help the housekeepers, aides, nurses or maintenance. Not too long ago, after a chat with the assistant director of nursing, he was given some tasks that made him feel useful. At meal times Melvin passes out clothing protectors and puts them on the residents who are not able to do it themselves. After meals, he collects the protectors and puts them in the laundry basket. And when he receives permission from the aides, he clears off the tables.

Melvin usually does his chores every day, even when he is not feeling well. Though he can sometimes be like a bull in a china shop, he tries to do his best. Melvin is happier when he is helping. I think it would be good if residents who are capable of helping out would follow Melvin's example. Willing residents might be happier if they were assigned chores; doing little things in the facility could occupy them and help them pass the time. Keeping busy and involved alleviates the two “soul stealers” of nursing home life: waiting and boredom.
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Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

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