Monday, July 23, 2012

Where I've Been--Findng Out About Nursing Homes

My 94-year-old mother, who we call Ama, fell requiring a trip to the hospital.  The doctor suggested a nursing home.  While she has been living on her own with assistance from her children, falling has increased along with failing memory. None of us three kids have the proper facilities at home (or the money to change that) or the 24 hour care that is needed. 

With less than 24 hours notice, our local Veteran's hospital transferred her to the Guilderland Center Nursing Home.  Online reviews were scary.  A May, 2012 Boston Globe report on overmedication showed that this nursing home was the second highest in our area Region in over medicating with sedatives.  By the second day, there was a note on file that a doctor had prescribed two doses of the generic form on Xanax to be given every day because Ama was upset her first night there.  The only reason we found out was that we asked why she was suddenly so groggy. 

I'm going to share a few pictures of the facility.

This was my mother's call button for the first couple of days.  The one on the wall was broken.

 This is a photo of the "fixed call button."  It may be a bit hard to see, but it's a piece string on the wall that was too short. The fix was to tie a piece of braided polypropylene rope to the end to pull for assistance.

There was a hole in the wall the first day.  Our complaint about the general state of the room did get this patch the next day.
It stayed like this for the next few days that my mother was there.  Here are a few pics of other areas of the walls.

 And the floors.

I watched the woman--a nice, polite lady--wash these floors, swabbing the mop back and forth.  These pictures are after it was cleaned.  For some reason, despite the wiping of the floor, our shoes were sticking to the floor.

There was no shower for the room, just a single toilet shared by four residents in two adjoining rooms.  The lock on my mother's room's side was broken.  There was a sink in the room.  The shower was down the hall.

The drawers still had things from the last resident.

Those spots in there were mostly cleaned out with Clorox wipes I brought from home after seeing the place.  In fact, most of the room was cleaned up with Clorox wipes--chair (only one in the room for two residents), armoire, drawers, walls, etc.    Fortunately for my mother, we live close enough to be able clean up a bit.

These are the armrests of the wheelchair Ama was given.
Well, I'll just show one pic.  Both armrests were in this condition.  There were rough edges on some of those cracks.  Many elderly people have paper thin skin that is easily damaged.  Their skin also tends to recover much more slowly.  My mother is one of them.  This issue is especially important since I saw residents sitting in wheelchairs for hours on end in the time I was there.  That's lots of time for delicate skin rubbing on these rough surfaces.

In any case, can you imagine having having to sit in a wheelchair for hours.  Many had fallen asleep, slumped to the side. I'd show pics, but I understand that it's not legal to take pics of other people in these places.

Did you know that nursing homes here in New York are only required to bathe residents once a week?  Sponge baths are supposed to be given the rest of the days.  Sponge baths at Guilderland Center Nursing Home consisted of leaving a washcloth and hand towel on a table.  Again, we were fortunate that we were close enough to assist in caring for my mother until we could find another place for her. 

I stayed until almost 9 on Ama's last night there.  A few of the experiences in that time:
  • A plate cover fell off the meal cart.  I watched an aide pick it up off the floor and put it back on the plate. 
  • I watched a man sitting outside my mother's room begging for assistance getting into bed.  He was literally saying, "Please help me. I'm begging you."  He told me he was so exhausted he thought he might fall out of his wheelchair and he had a terrible headache.  I finally went to get him some assistance.  I had to call to someone in the room behind the nurses station, who replied, "Okay" to my request for someone to help the man.  I told he help was coming and walked into my mother's room.  I then heard someone calling that she was going on break.  The man, looking so very sad, turned to tell me it was the nurse.  Sure enough, I watched her walk away down the hall.  It was well over a half an hour before he got assistance.  That was just the time I saw him in the hall.  He had been buzzing for help with no response before he finally went into the hallway.
  • I listened to buzzers ringing continuously all the time I was there.  One worker finally yelled, "If they don't stop ringing those bells!"  My mother could not get assistance getting to the bathroom on her first night there and soiled herself.  They wrote in her files that she was incontinent and put adult diapers on her.  I wonder how many others are listed as incontinent because of insufficient staff to answer calls for assistance.
We were able to get my mother transferred to another nursing home.  It's clean and much better run.  Still, they only shower residents once a week.  That can be moved up to twice a week at the family's request.  Sponge baths at the new nursing home also seem to consist of getting the resident to wash up.  I'm in awe of this.  I cannot imagine not being able to bathe daily.  I still cannot wrap my mind around it.  We will get there to bathe my mother as often as we can.  That is allowed.  The family can do it if they wish. 

 I'm still sick at heart for those people who are still at the Guilderland Center Nursing Home without family to help, though.  Hell, I'm sad for people in nursing homes who only get to shower once a week.  I'm sad for my mother and scared for myself, my husband, siblings, and my children that this could be our eventual fate.  What to do about all this??  I don't know know where to start.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The New Birdbath

I made another birdbath!   Love it!  My new squirrel-proof bird feeders are working so well I needed another birdbath for all my feathered guests.

I could not find a matching plate and vase in "my price range" (aka cheap).  Sooo, I got a blue decorative plate for $5.99 and a clear vase for $7.99.  I used food coloring to get the water to the same shade as the plate.  (Don't use too much food coloring.  A little goes a long way.)  Blue with just a couple of drops of green got the water to match the plate almost perfectly.  I put this together the same as I did this one last year.
You can read about that here. I used the E6000 glue and clear silicone caulk same as last year, although a more permanent glass epoxy might be another way to do it.

The red one doesn't have water in the base, and moisture got in before I sealed it with the silicone caulk last year.  That wasn't a good look.  With the blue one being filled with water,  I sealed this one with silicone to keep the water clean and clear.  I left an inch of space in case the water needs some room to expand or something.  Science is not my strong suit.  I might be wrong with that need for expansion.  It may not be necessary to leave the space. Maybe some reader can let us know in the comments. 

I shall let you know how the birds like it.

Update:  Two things I'd like to mention here.  First, Duckyzgal asked about the water getting contaminated in the comment section.  If you have concerns/questions, I've added some info in my reply to her comment below.

Second, I  probably should have reemphasized some things about using the E6000 in this post.  You really have to use it according to the directions and sparingly.  If you put on too much it will run down the glass.  While you can cut off run lines on the outside, you can't on the inside.  That said, E6000 dries to a rubbery finish that can be cut off.  It's not a big deal to take off the old glue and try again. 

Branch Pencils!

Look what I found at Marshall's for $5.99.
Are these not the coolest colored pencils ever?  Sometimes I like to sketch out a quilty idea.
These will get to stay out on the desk for those times.  Even the box is beautiful.  It looks like handmade paper.  I thought they might be a bit uncomfortable, but they're not. 

These points will require some whittling rather than a pencil sharpener, but that's okay.  It appeals to my outdoorsy/craftsy side.  Doesn't everyone have a pen knife on their key chain?  Just me, huh?
The package says they are eco friendly, from sustainable wood and all that.
I've been playing outside today with some other things I found at Marshall's.  I shall post about it later today or tomorrow.  Busy, busy, busy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lucy's on a Diet

This is Lucy, my mother's cat.
She weighs 25 pounds!  Lucy has been on a diet for a week now.  Hence, the annoyed look.  We had an intervention to get my 94-year-old mother to stop overfeeding the cat.  She swears that Lucy does not eat too much!  Since I'm buying the cat food, I will have a little control here.  How strange to be in the position of telling a parent that she has to behave!

Lucy isn't speaking to me right now.  She just turns away.  That may be because walking away would involve too much effort.

Wish Lucy luck!  I'll let you know how she's doing. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Baby Gift is Finished!

When I asked my sewing muse, Sandra of Sandra Sews about her bib patterns because I needed to make a baby gift, she not only gave me links to free patterns, but suggested that I might want to include a taggy blanket, and maybe a little stuffy especially if the fabric had some little beast in it.  Now I have the most adorable baby gift EVER.

 This link has all three of the bib patterns I used.  LOVE them.
I liked the idea of having different sizes.  I've had the Michael Miller duck
fabric sitting in the stash for a while now.  Finally got to use it!
I quilted a heart on the little one.  It's there--really--look closely.
Kind of a funny story on the duck stuffy.  I got the pattern here.  If you look at Mariska's duck and my duck, you would never believe they were from the same pattern.  I enlarged the pattern to 125%.  For some reason, I ended up with a giant head and a small body.  I turned it upside down which looks fine to me.  Since this is for a tiny baby, I embroidered the eyes, satin-stitched the beak in place, and left off the lovely flower.  I also opted for folded ribbon for the feet instead of Mariska's design.  Muse Sandra did a little owl with ribbon tabs for feet that I loved.  Ribbons were easier, too.  I like easy.
I sewed the neck ribbon to the stuffy and
 through the bow itself  so it won't come undone or off.
The duck is made with Minkee someone gave me.  I now know why she gave it to me.  It's not the easiest fabric to work with.  It slides WITH pins in it.  Must go online to find the tricks to working with Minkee before I use it again!

About the taggy blanket...  I made it a bit large.  I had no idea how big a taggy blanket should be.  As I started lining up the ribbons, I decided less is more.  (That sounds better than saying that I was too lazy to put on all those ribbons.  I'm happy with it!  I put the ribbons between the seam instead of on the edge--happy with that result, too.

I even had some matching ribbon in the stash, ducks and bubbles just like the fabric!

 Everything is backed with yellow flannel, the color of the ducks.  The flannel makes the blanket perfect for summer--enough but not too much.   Thanks, as always, Sandra!  I am so freaking pleased with how it all turned out.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Denim Button Basket

So the sewing muse (aka Sandra of Suddenly Sandra) mentioned  making fabric baskets from denim and this picture of my denim scrap pile came to mind:
Actually I only had to look in the corner of the sewing room to see this.  I took my stash of scrap denim out about a week before when I was thinking that I really should do something with it.  It was supposed to turn into a rag quilt long ago.  Stealing Sandra's ideas has become a habit, so here is my new button basket!
I liked the idea of "labeling" the button basket with buttons.  

My previous button storage:

Okay, maybe I do buy too many buttons.  
My plan was to use my twin needle again, but you know how plans go.  I broke the needle on the first row! My own fault, too.  Must remember to make sure the needle is screwed in tightly in the future.  Instead, I used a simple decorative stitch to attach the batting to the denim.  The dimensions are the same as I used for the Asian fabric basket in the last post, 24x18 1/2 inches,  I left the handles off this basket, but I miss them.  The new denim ribbon basket will have handles--with ribbons, of course.  Check out Sandra's blog for her fabric baskets and a link to the original tutorial here.
It's not even full.  I may have to get more buttons while I'm shopping for a new twin needle or two.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

One Apartment Warming Gift Finished!

"Somebody" is using black and red for her new apartment.  I decided to make kitchen towels, but my Savory Swirls designs didn't look good in black and red.  I found these Asian embroidery designs, and I love, love, love how the towels came out.  Rather than paper wrapping, I made a fabric basket from some Asian inspired yardage I had on hand.
I bought a bolt of Huck toweling a while back at Joann's, prewashed the whole thing, ironed it, and put it back on the cardboard.  So nice  to have it in the house when I want it!  These designs are from The Embroidery Library.  I posted about making the Huck towels before.  You can see the dimensions I use here.

The fabric basket idea was from my sewing muse.  Yes, I have a sewing muse.  You have to get one!  I've adopted Sandra from Sandra Sews.  She's always using techniques, fabrics, patterns, and "things" that encourage me to kick my sewing up a notch.  Sandra made some small fabric baskets recently.  You can take a look here and get the link for the free pattern.  (Free is always great!)   I doubled the size of the pattern and used solid pieces of fabric instead of piecing squares.  My main pieces were 24x18 1/2.  The handles were double the size of the original pattern as well.

With the batting, my bag is a bit wobbly which doesn't matter if the basket is full.  Next time, I will probably  use a mid to heavy interfacing instead of batting, or, maybe, with the batting.

Back to my muse.  I would never have tried the twin needles if I hadn't seen how nice that perfect double line looked on Sandra's projects with batting.  I decided to try it on this fabric basket.  Sandra said it was easy and gave me a few tips.  I watched a few YouTube videos, too, to get up my courage.

Turns out, it IS easy! Doesn't that look nice?  I might try doing more of this on the next basket. That may well provide enough stability so that I won't need to the interfacing.  I shall let you all know!

I put in some red dish clothes--store-bought.  I CANNOT find terry fabric at the fabric stores that I like.  I make hair towels with Joann's terry cloth, which is okay, but it really "wrinkles" up with one use.  It doesn't look pretty hanging.  It works great, though.

Should the recipient see this before the gift arrives, there will still be a surprise.  There is something special under those towels!