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Miss Hollywood in my nursing home

July 11, 2010
by Kathleen Mears
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Miss Hollywood has been here about a year. She came to this facility the way many female residents do: She fell at home and became too unstable to stay there on her own. Miss Hollywood got her name because of her 1950s-style up hairdo.

After she had been here a few months, Miss Hollywood's family tried to talk her into getting her hair cut. She told the aides that she was thinking about getting it cut. But she continued to have her family take her out regularly to a salon to get her hair colored and the style redone.

Anyone who knew Miss Hollywood back in the day remembered her riding in her car, sporting the latest clothes, and wearing her signature updo.

A few months ago Miss Hollywood's family told the facility it was becoming too difficult to take her out to get her hair done. She was having greater difficulty walking and also holding her head up. So her trips to an outside beauty shop to recreate her look ended.

Miss Hollywood acted differently when she was no longer going out to get her hair done. She had episodes of illness before but she seemed to perk up whenever she returned from a hair appointment.

Several of the aides have tried to recreate her updo. The facility hair stylists say they do not know how.

So Miss Hollywood now has a high ponytail with three to four inches of silver hair at the roots. Most of us know that she would love to have her hair back in its usual do. But no one feels confident enough to color her hair and put it in an updo. That process will take time and they wonder if she has the stamina for it.

When I see Miss Hollywood, I wonder how she feels about giving up the hairdo, which was her trademark for so many years. If I had my way, and could get her to cooperate, I would make sure her hair was colored and put back into her favorite style.

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Comments

great piece, thanks for sharing

yes - it is like giving up a part of themselves - their identity. I saw the same thing in a woman who had to give up her earthy sandals for orthopedic shoes - she went downhill quickly.

I say if we could do the best we could for older people, then we would find a hairdresser who could do it and bring her too the facililty - this would it seems do so much for Miss Hollywood, I remember reading a paper years ago that they ran a haridressing group for mothers who were struggling and it was shown to improve thier sense of wellbeing.

My mother in law Kathleen has just gone into a high care dementia unit and having her hair done is one of the things she can still enjoy - it is the touch, intimacy and chatter that I think makes the whole thing work - has it has always been before people entered care.

I don't how we increase funding so people can have the best life possible while in care ... but this is what i am committed to advocating for as much as I can.

Keep well, and keep writing Kathleen.
Cheers
Ralph

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...