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When this resident loses her cool

September 26, 2011
by Kathleen Mears
| Reprints

Even though I try to always be cordial to the aides and nurses, I know there are times when I fall short. Nursing homes are mini bureaucracies and every decision has to go through some type of red tape. This whole situation drives me crazy. For instance, last Sunday during breakfast, instead of my usual cereal and biscuit, my tray had only a biscuit, margarine, jelly and my drinks.

I could not believe that was all there was. When I asked about my cold cereal, I was told cereal was not on the menu. I went to my nurse and was told the breakfast I received was probably what was listed on my dietary card. Frustrated, I said I had eaten the same breakfast on Sundays for almost a year! Then I turned and headed back to the dining room.

When an aide began to feed me my biscuit, a bowl of cold cereal arrived. But I already had an aide get a cereal bar from my room to eat with breakfast. I silently wondered why my dietary card had been changed. Even though the nurses were helpful, I knew they did not want to deal with my dietary issue on a Sunday. I was glad I kept my cool. I knew I would have to tell the dietitian about the tray error to hopefully get my dietary card changed.

But there are times when actually I lose it. What really flares me up is when my things are not where they belong. Deodorant, shampoo, conditioner and other personal things go missing all the time. Someone puts them away for me, and the next time I tell an aide where to get something, it is frequently not in its place.

There is little room for storage in this pseudo-dorm. So I have a plastic-handled shower basket where my shower things are put. But when somebody messes up my system, I sometimes sound off about it.

Sunday, when a newer aide could not find my deodorant, I blurted out, “I am so sick and tired of things in my room not being where they are supposed to be. I know maybe you did not move things, but somebody did!”

When I saw the aide looking at me, I wondered if she would start sounding off too. Instead, she said she was sorry that she could not find what I wanted. That surprised and calmed me. I explained to her how frustrating it is not to be able to find things or look for them. The new aide said she understood my frustration.

When this young aide apologized about the incident that day, I said, “You have no reason to apologize. You acted very professional. I apologize to you for losing my cool.”

Because this aide empathized with my situation, my frustration quickly defused.

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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...