Sunday, February 05, 2012

care facility cabin fever

“loneliness, helplessness and boredom are the three plagues of long-term care”  Eden Alternative
“Don seemed to me to be going downhill, and a couple of the staff also suggested that he was deteriorating. …Then the head nurse came up with a different theory and a different solution … Don’s got cabin fever, that’s all. … Here’s the thing. …  It only took a day or two, and Don was back to himself again.”  Multiple Sclerosis Carer: Stir Crazy

Recently I found myself in a similar situation with Patti and dinner. She was ‘reportedly’ finishing less of her meals and just wanted to go to bed. I began moving up my arrival time to be there to help with dinner. 

One such meal stands out. Arriving I saw Patti had finished her entre and overheard her yucking the aide’s offer of her fruit cup or potato soup and that she ‘just wanted to go to bed’.

Noticing the fruit cup was diced pears and peaches, two of Patti’s favorites – I rephrased the question ‘would you like some cut up pears and peaches’ with a totally different response. Of course, how could the aide know Patti’s favorites?

Soup is a function of temperature more than taste to Patti. Hot is not appealing. Hey we’re talking about cream of potato soup here. The cooler it gets, the more pretentious it becomes. Rolling out my best bad French accent, Patti enjoyed her ‘vichyssoise’ assisted by zee crazy french waiter.

Instead of another unfinished meal, there was not a crumb left nor did Patti 'just want to go to bed'.

“… increased family involvement is positive and leads to quality of life and quality of care for residents…” National Institutes of Health Family Involvement in Residential Long-Term Care

If the testimonials of two Multiple Sclerosis spouse caregivers, a long term care non-profit, and NIH is not enough - then consider that even circling sharks pause to stress the importance of family involvement. Boston nursing home abuse attorney Bernard J. Hamill, “ensuring safe care is continued family involvement. There is really no substitute for this.”

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer 


  1. increased family involvement is positive and leads to quality of life and quality of care for residents…
    Well, no one has to tell you that. You are wonderful, Patrick, truly. ~Mary

  2. Hi, Patrick,
    We learned the same thing with my mother. She needs to be fed pureed food now, and often the CNAs just leave her if she gets sleepy or non-compliant. When I feed her, I carry on a conversation, and try to make the meal pleasant. This is one issue I need to address at our care conference. I'm looking for a way to give you my email. Thanks for your help.

    1. Muff, just click on my Blogger 'profile' ... then click email.

  3. You are such a sweetheart. What a difference those kind of things make...

  4. I wish I had more husbands like you visiting their loved ones in the nursing home. You're wonderful and you asked Patti the right question. CNA's and staff in general need so much more education on approaching residents during meals and care.

    Wonderful post.


  5. Thank you to tell us so much useful information. So nice sharing. I’m glad to read it.


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