Posts made in November, 2013

nursing home neglect

Unfortunately nursing home neglect and injuries are more common than we think. Read below for some of the worst stories we have heard.

My Gigi

The first memory I have is of my mother’s mother – my Gigi. I didn’t realize until I was in my 20’s that Gigi was actually “G.G.” for “great-grandmother.” She was just my Gigi. The memory is of sitting on her lap in her living room. It was dark, as always, since she didn’t want to waste electricity by having the room too bright.

I could feel the bones of her legs under mine through my green corduroy pants and her faded wool skirt. She smelled of moth balls and chicken soup. Knowing Gigi, she had probably dabbed a bit of both behind her ears. She was reading a book to me; a book she was holding with her thin, almost translucent hands.


Help is Needed

Those hands were so delicate and yet so strong. With them she had raised 8 kids, battled the Great Depression, grieved with the country with the Kennedy’s were assassinated and listened to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Those hands, covered with dark spots the size of quarters, whose edges almost overlapped until there was more dark than light in places. Those hands, with rivers of dark blue running in relief, like a 3D map of her life. Those hands that could no longer stay still. Those hands that had soothed and punished her three boys and five girls. Those hands that could no longer take care of her. Gigi started calling me by my mom’s name, by my aunt’s name … sometimes even by her dead sister’s name. Then Gigi couldn’t drive anymore. Then Gigi couldn’t remember where she lived or if she’d taken her medicine or what year it was. Gigi came to live with us for a while, but she left the gas burner on once and started a kitchen fire. Then she went for a walk in the middle of the night and the police from two towns over brought her back.


Nursing Home

Shortly after that, Gigi moved into a nursing home. When I was old enough to drive, I would go to see Gigi after school. She was almost always asleep when I arrived, but would perk up as if she had been napping to get extra strength to visit with me. One time, I walked in to find her room smelling of urine. I asked if she was OK and she confessed that she’d had an “accident” and pointed to the panties draped over a lamp. I ignored the accident bit – I’m sure she was embarrassed enough – but just had to tell her that it wasn’t a good idea to hang anything flammable from a heat source.



While I never saw anything as bad as the nursing home horror stories on the news, I know something about nursing home neglect. My poor Gigi, who was such a strong and confident woman, became a shell. The lost nearly 40 pounds that she didn’t have to spare. She always said she wasn’t hungry, but managed to eat if I fed her. I asked the staff several times if they couldn’t please make it a point to have someone help her eat at least once a day. I was always told that they did the best they could and Gigi was eating as she should. I know that wasn’t true.  In the end, Gigi had less than 90 pounds on her 5’8” frame. She died of “natural causes” but I knew that wasn’t true. She died for lack of attention, nutrition and entertainment. She died of boredom and starvation. She died of embarrassment because she was too strong to ask for help eating.

Not the Worst Nursing Home Horror Stories … But Not Good Enough

I’m glad that Gigi didn’t die of exposure like the poor man in Oak Lawn, IL. Nor did she ever have sores untended so long that they developed maggots. What she also didn’t have was someone that took care of her on a consistent basis, someone that was held accountable for Gigi’s status. I did the best I could to take care of Gigi while my mom worked 3 jobs to take care of me. I wish I had been able to do more for Gigi. I know that if it ever comes to the point when my mom needs more help than I can give, I’ll hire home health nurses or do whatever I have to do to make sure I don’t lose Mom like I lost Gigi to nursing home neglect.



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medicine cabinetThere are a few good reasons to maintain an organized medicine cabinet, not the least of which is to simplify our lives and make it easier to find the things we need.  Another important reason to keep our medicine cabinets in order is to make sure we’re not holding on to any expired medications.Medication errors, ranging from incorrect prescriptions to taking expired pills, injure in excess of 1.5 million people annually. Here are five things you can do to de-clutter your medicine cabinet and ensure that doesn’t happen to you.


First Things First

 Start from scratch and clear out the entire medicine cabinet. Throw away anything that is damaged, useless, and most importantly, expired. This article from the Food and Drug Administration talks about the dangers of taking expired prescription drugs.

Next, clean the shelves with disinfectant wipes or a sponge and disinfectant spray. If you are able to remove the shelves, take them out, wash them in soap and water, and thoroughly dry before replacing.

Maximize Space

 If your medicine cabinet shelves are adjustable, move them up to create more room for the tallest items, such as cologne, hair gels, and toothbrushes and toothpaste. Putting your toothbrush behind a closed door is more sanitary than leaving it out on the counter.

Another great way to maximize space is to invest a few dollars in mini risers. They add an extra shelf to the medicine cabinet, which allows you to neatly store more items.


Location, Location, Location 

As you return the items to the medicine cabinet, pay attention to where they go. Anything you don’t use often should be placed on the top shelf, or even in another cabinet. For example, how often do you really use hydrogen peroxide? Save the lower shelve(s) for everyday items.


Think Small and Consolidate

 Anything you buy in bulk, such as cotton balls, should be moved to smaller containers with the big bags being stored separately. Place the items in uniform clear jars for ease of identification, place them in the medicine cabinet, and refill as needed. This prevents everything from tumbling out of the medicine cabinet every time you open the door. If it’s feasible, do the same thing with liquids, like hair gel.

When it comes to items that are already small, consider consolidating them into a single clear jar. For example, group together your lip balm, eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick. That way, nothing will roll out of the medicine cabinet, but you can still easily retrieve the items.


Common Themes

 To make it easier to find everything once it’s all been organized, group things together by category. All of your makeup should have its own area, as should all of your first aid supplies, medicines, hygiene products, and so on. That way, when you open the medicine cabinet looking for something, you don’t have to move everything around (disorganizing it again!) just to find it.

Keeping an organized medicine cabinet can save you time and help you avoid frustration. It can also serve as a reminder to keep track of the dates on your medications, so you can throw them out once they’re expired. If you need to get rid of old medication, but don’t know how to safely dispose of it, read this article from the FDA, because while it is important to dispose of expired medication, it’s also important to do it properly.



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Ways to Prepare for Surgery

Ways to Prepare for Surgery

Posted By on Nov 18, 2013

prepare for surgerThe anticipation of surgery leads to feelings of anxiety that most certainly only add to the already stressful situation. Regardless of what kind of surgery will be performed, no one looks forward to it, or the post-operative recovery period. Fortunately, there are some things you can do for yourself prior to surgery that will go a long way in helping you get back on your feet sooner.

Plan Ahead

The most important thing you can do for yourself prior to having any surgical procedure, is to organize your life so that it’s easier on you once you get home. Here are a few items to put on your checklist.

  • Communicate: Discuss the surgery with your friends, family, spouse, and caregiver (if applicable). Line up the help you will need and make sure to thoroughly communicate your needs, the severity of the surgery, and the projected recovery period. Remember to include transportation to and from the hospital or clinic, as well as pet care, in the conversation.
  •  Home: Clean your home, seeking help, if needed, and arrange your furniture in a way that will most benefit your recovery. Remove obstacles from entryways, particularly the bathroom and kitchen, and make sure that loose rugs, wires and other things that are typically on the floor, are removed from your path. Take careful notice of the layout of your bathroom and kitchen. Place often used items, such as soap and dishes, in easier to reach places.
  •   Bills: Don’t forget about your finances, especially if your recovery is expected to be particularly long or challenging. If possible, pay your bills in advance. If you have concerns about falling behind on payments, call your creditors before you have surgery. That way, you can have peace of mind when you come home to recuperate.

All of these tips are aimed at helping you not only prepare for surgery, but also prepare for recovery. The easier you make it on yourself the quicker you will recover. Outside of organizing your friends and family, as well as your home and finances, there are many other things that you can do to help yourself prepare.Click here for an informative slideshow presented by WebMD. It offers valuable tips on preparing for surgery, as well as what to expect during and after surgery.


 Regardless of how well prepared you are before heading into surgery, you’ll likely experience some measure of anxiety. Here is a great resource from about how to mentally and emotionally prepare for surgery.

The biggest question that can’t be answered, of course, is ‘will something go wrong?’ After all, you will be under anesthesia, and that’s a scary proposition for many people. While there is no way to ensure that nothing will go wrong, it’s critical that you know about the possibilities of anesthesia errors, if only to be informed. Education is one way to help alleviate your anxiety in that regard. Information on how anesthesia is administered, as well as potential errors related to its administration are available plentifully. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or anesthesiologist before the surgery.

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