Class update: Day Nine of 14

Have I told you that my STNA class is like a mini-United Nations? We have Ghana, South Korea, Argentina, Guinea and, like, Plain City.

It’s really put an interesting cultural spin on the “activities of daily living,” that we learn about in class. Students from all of the African countries are appalled at the way Americans box up our elderly and put them into group homes when they reach a certain age.

“My grandmother would never be treated by strangers,” they often say. “She stays with the family.”

This is true. And sad. The only advantage that I can think of is that, for instance, my grandma has a fairly extensive social schedule in her nursing home. She has, at times, asked us to come back later (after we had driven to Toledo to see her, fyi) because she’s got some hot craft or BINGO night on the schedule. She might not have as much fun staying with one of her children, watching my dad or my uncle’s kids shuffling from football to soccer or whatever.

But she IS taken care of — and I’m talking dressed, bathed, helped with dinner, transferred into her wheelchair– by strangers. Strangers who have been trained for a whopping three weeks. Many of whom aren’t afraid to verbalize how they’re repulsed at the thought of a colostomy bag, or, more pertinent to grams, ”peri” care.

There are flaws in the system.

Apparently, there also are 3,457 ways to KILL an elderly person while caring for them. And I am learning all of them. Skin, bones, teeth, lungs — all of it needs a little more TLC when you get older, and any bump or forgetfulness on behalf of the caretaker can lead to bruises and infection and choking and suffocating and death. Basically, in a nursing home, everything you do can kill someone. It’s quite a daunting thing to think about. I think the pay should be more than it is.

In the meantime, here are some more gems from Carol. You know, to lighten the mood. We’ve been up and about in the classroom learning skills, so there haven’t been as many good stories as there were last week.

Mealtime:

- Feeding with a spoon is always better. A confused resident may start stabbing you with their fork if they feel like you’re not feeding them fast enough.

-After a meal, be sure to check for foods they might have hid in their cheeks.

- Elderly often have razor-sharp gums. They can take out an apple, chew nuts, anything with their gums. If you have a strong enough will, Carol says, you can do anything. Life is what you make of it.

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