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Getting used to new surroundings

October 25, 2010
by Kathleen Mears
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I am beginning my fourth week at this behavior facility. When I first came, I was leery and somewhat frightened by the noise caused by other residents, as well as their actions. I was not used to residents reaching for me as a young female recently did. She yanked so hard on my right arm that it was pulled completely off the armrest. All the nurse did was to remind me to cut a wide swath when I passed that resident.

I am by myself in a semi-private room. The room is three-fourths the size of my old one, and I share the bathroom with another resident. The second bed must stay in the room, which takes up space.

The walls are painted a medium green and have no decorations. My sister brought two items that could be put on the wall. Since there was a nail across from my bed, she hung my photo frame. When I saw it on the wall, like it was in my old room, I was calmer.

I miss my large bulletin board, calendar, and the odds and ends in my old room that told my story. But I have what I need.

Residents are awake here at all hours of the day and night. They wander in and out of the TV room by the nurses' station. The residents who smoke get six smoke breaks a day outside in a butt hut.

We are called to meals by the facility's PA system. Since the building is locked inside and outside, I have had to get used to needing someone to let me out and back in again.

The view out the windows is of a neighborhood. In the morning we watch children across the street get on the school bus right before our 8 a.m. breakfast.

Two weeks ago the facility welcomed a prison-trained dog. He is an 18-month-old beagle/hound mix named Brutus. Prisoners trained him, got him used to being around people, and taught him to obey several commands. It took him about a week to get adjusted in the facility. During the week he follows a woman in the office. On my way to breakfast I can see him waiting for her outside the office door.

Watching the dog get acclimated made me realize that he and I were going through some of the same things. We both had anxiety; we did not quite know where to go; we knew our things were here, but are not sure we liked them where they were; and we both searched for a place we felt comfortable.

I do not know that any of us like a nursing home. However, after a certain time, we adapt to our surroundings. In my previous nursing home room, things were set up to be functional for me. Now that I am here, the aides and I have to figure all that out again.

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Comments

curious as to why the move to another facility?

I am 48, and just discovered this blog site. The DON in my facility shares the LTLMagazine with me, as I was an RN before MS caused me to leave my job. I also enjoy writing, and have joined this site. However, I have some questions. It sounded as if by signing up, one could blog any constructive comments. However, beyond a profile, I can't figure out how to upload to a blog I would write. Any helpful comments are welcome!

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...