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Roommate adjustment

January 13, 2014
by Kathleen Mears
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I have lived alone in my room since my previous roommate broke her hip in January 2013.

After surgery, she was moved to another room with better wheelchair access to the bathroom. A few months after she could walk again, she moved to another facility.

I was told a couple of times that I would get a roommate but for one reason or another it did not happen.

A few weeks ago, the assistant director of nursing said they were getting a new admission who would be my new roommate. Feeling uncomfortable living with someone unknown, I suggested Janeen (a pseudonym) as a possible roommate. We lived together for three months in 2011. The assistant director of nursing agreed and Janeen moved in the week before Christmas.

I have to admit I like my quiet. But I am also fearful to be in a room by myself particularly because I need so much help. Since I am not close to the nurses' station, it would be difficult for the aides to hear me call for help if I needed it quickly.

When Janeen moved in, she was on her best behavior. But she has her foibles. She compulsively moves her furniture, including her freestanding clothes closet. Her preferred time to move furniture used to be two o'clock in the morning. When I roomed with her before, I tried to close my eyes and ignore her. Despite her compulsions I know she would never hurt me.

Janeen can be very sweet and is childlike. Unfortunately, at times she does pester me for food, batteries, or something artificially sweetened to drink. I am careful about what I give her. She is tall and heavyset and I do not like to contribute to her snacking.

Janeen loves music but plays it very loudly. She got a small radio for Christmas and even with a headset I can still hear her music. She certainly gets transfixed watching music on television. She rocks and stares as if she is in a trance.

Last night Janeen was unsettled. She loudly moved her bedside stand to the other side of her bed. I was able to stridently convince her to get in bed and try to go to sleep. About an hour later she was asleep. I was exhausted from persuading her to settle down. I explained to her that I need my rest. She asked that I please not throw her out for moving furniture. She knows she is compulsive.

So, in this New Year 2014, I will be getting used to my roommate's habits and hoping to foster détente.


Kathleen Mears

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