Too old to go outdoors?

This happened years ago.

It was a busy shift and when Mr G. pressed his buzzer I was annoyed. I knew what he wanted. I knew it’d take me at least 20 minutes to get him organized and outside. But he was an outdoorsman. And he didn’t want to be in his room all day. Until fairly recently he’d been going out on his own, but his muscles had weakened significantly and his legs were unable to hold him up.

He’d been a farmer all his life. At first with his father, later in life, after many years of running the farm with his wife, his son took over the farm and he’d stayed on as a farm help. That was until he came to live with us in the nursing home. When he moved in he told us he wanted to go out daily. “I don’t mind bad weather” he said.

His daughter in law had constructed what looked like a sleeping bag out of leather and sheepskin. This ‘bag’, if you will, went up to his chest. This went over his trousers and shoes. A thick wind and watertight parka went over it. I put his gloves on his hands and placed the buzzer inside. A hat and a cap adorned his head. The last thing I put on him was a scarf in the colours of the Island Flag.

He looked ridiculous. But you’d want an old fragile man to be kept warm when it’s freezing.

So I rolled his wheelchair outside, just under the awning. It was snowing, so it wasn’t too cold. I told him I’d come and check on him every 30 minutes and if something was wrong he’d buzz me.

After the first 30 minutes I went to check on him. He was fine, he told me. I checked his temperature by placing three fingers on the back of his neck. He yelled at me, my hand was colder than he was. I offered him a cup of tea which he declined. After the second 30 minutes he was still felling warm, but took the cup of tea I offered him.

Twenty minutes later, I was taking a tea break, I heard commotion in the hallway. I went to see what was going on.

The scene was hilarious. Mr G. was  being rolled indoors by a woman I’d never seen before. Behind her was a man looking very embarrassed. Mr G was shouting, screaming and yelling. She wasn’t listening to anything he said.

When she saw me standing at the door of the staff room, she immediately began to yell at me, glaring at me. She basically told me off for putting Mr G outside in the snow. She said it was unheard of to put a man of his age outside for any amount of time. Apparently they had come by earlier and she’d seen him outside then. All the while Mr G was screaming bloody murder. I placed my hand on his shoulder and told him to stop and trust me. He stopped screaming.

When the woman finally stopped yelling, her husband ( I assume) looking more embarrassed than ever, I asked her if she had asked Mr G why he was outside. Mr G immediately started yelling again. “No, she hasn’t asked me anything. Bloody woman just rolled me inside!” The woman started saying that this was beside the point.

Behind me I heard my boss. Her office was close to the hallway and instinctively I knew she was standing behind the door. There for me should I need it.

I told the woman my question was not beside the point. That if a patient wanted to go outside they were allowed to. That he was better suited for the cold than she was. And that he’d spent his life working outdoors. It’d be cruel to lock him inside, saying it was too cold in winter, too hot in summer and too wet on everything in between.

Her husband quietly told her she’d made a mistake, but she was still having none of it. “I’m going to go to the police. I’m going to complain about this.” I told her fine. Even gave the name of a police officer that would be more than happy to talk to her. It was the name of Mr G’s son-in-law.

Mr G laughed. The woman and her husband went to the police station.

I heard later that the son-in-law and his coworkers had a good laugh about it.

Strange ways to do household chores

A few weeks ago I was talking to a coworker about the washing that had been left to dry in the sun. I was proclaiming that this wasn’t how they should leave it. That they should leave it in the shade to prevent discoloring when my coworkers started looking at me in a funny way.
At first I didn’t understand why they were looking at me like that, but as it turns out everyone else hangs their washing to dry in the full sun.

This made me realise that I am the only person in a rather large group that not only hangs the washing in the shade, I also cover it with a tea towel to make sure sunlight doesn’t hit my clothes.
I’m also the only one that never uses pegs on t-shirts, sweaters and blouses. And when I use pegs on trousers I use two on each leg, making sure to only use them on the bottom rim, so there won’t be any marks visible.


But this made me wonder about other things as well.
Am I the only one who turns the mattress every time I change the bedding? Am I the only one who has marked all four sides of said mattress to make sure I turn them evenly?
And how about washing pillows?

I see a lot of people who hang their duvet out the bedroom window. That is something I’d never do. It’s hanging from a spider invested window sill, rubbing against a dirty brick wall, or worse, dirty roof tiles. I only get it outside when it’s great weather and hang it out on a few chairs and washing lines. To keep it off the ground.

How about you? Do you have strange ways to do household chores?

Photo via AuntieP

What has been heard cannot be unheard…

Last week I was at the gym when I overheard a conversation between 3 women. Woman 1 told her friends how her (other) friends’ husband had died in a nursing home. He fell down the stairs and broke both of his hips, an arm and both of his ankles.
He was brought to hospital where he was discharged after 3 weeks. He was brought to a nursing home where he stayed 2 weeks. He then got transferred to the second nursing home where he stayed 3 weeks. The last nursing home didn’t seem to care much for him. He had bed sores, was in a lot of pain and laid in his own feces for hours before somebody came in to help him.

Already this story shocked me. I work in a nursing home and can’t believe there are nursing homes that can do this to people. Thankfully this was on the other side of the country, so not close to us.

But the next bit of the story shocked me even more.

She told her friends how the friends’ husband died suddenly. Yes, he was sick, he was in pain and had been in traction for weeks. But he wasn’t dying. At least, that’s what they thought.
When he died, the friend called in the police to investigate, as she wasn’t convinced of a natural death. I’m unsure of what she told the police, but the mans death is under investigation. They did an autopsy and found 20 thumbtacks and 3 needles in his stomach and intestines…


How did he got hold of those? Did he take them deliberately? Did someone give the thumbtacks to him? I have no idea. Will we hear more of this story? We might, in the news. Or we might not. I don’t know.
But the story has grabbed me. And I find it horrible to think of that poor man. He must have been in so much pain…

photo by Theilr.
this post has been written for the DailyPrompt.

How did you learn your middle name?

This tweet, by Carole Holland, got RT-ed into my timeline this afternoon.
It made me laugh so much I almost choked on a piece of candy.

It actually reminded me of an incident that happened a long time ago, when I still worked at the Butchery.


It was 2 days before Christmas. We’ve had been busy for days and I hadn’t gotten around to buying groceries. My mom, being the good woman she is, had taken my shopping list and gotten out to buy my groceries.
I lived on the other side of town, so she thought she’d bring them by, while I was at work.

I was so busy I didn’t see or hear her come in. I was standing with my back to the door when I heard her voice pretty loudly saying: “Froukje [middle name] [last name]!” I immediately stood up and yelling back: “I didn’t do anything!”

My coworkers almost pissed themselves from laughing so hard. I was pretty embarrassed, my mom tought it was the funniest thing ever…

Never forget there’s a person inside that body

As a nurse it’s easy to forget the person behind the face you’re dealing with. You see your residents every day and they all have one or more issues which prevent them from caring for themselves. It’s easy to forget who they once were, to see them as just a face, a body. But there’s a person behind the exterior. A person that dealt with school, health, work, family, friends. Even if they don’t deal with that now.

The man who regularly screams for help when he hears kids playing in the street. He has lost his daughter. She drowned when she was 5. He stood on the water’s edge and couldn’t help as he can’t swim himself. No-one else was close enough to help out.

The woman who’s sitting in her wheelchair, looking out of the window all day. She doesn’t say a word. She lost two of her sons in a car crash. The same car crash which left her husband paralysed and left her with severe headaches.

the woman who clutches the babydoll and won’t let go of it, not even for food or drinks. She fell pregnant when she was 16 and had to give birth in a home. Far away from her boyfriend and her (unsupportive) family. Her child was taken away to be adopted, even though she desperately wanted to keep him. She never told anyone this story.

The man who walks into the hallway in his underwear. He once was a school director. He helped out a lot of kids in trouble. He always wanted to become a teacher and he managed to follow his dream, even though his parents had no money.

The man who lies in bed the whole time and screams loudly at night. He was a pediatrician. Many of you who care for him now, he helped when you were little.

The woman who always cries and tells you “I don’t want to live anymore.” She was the head nurse in the hospital nearby. She helped out many people in their hour of need. Now she needs your help.

It’s so easy to forget that all these people have had a whole life before they came to live in a nursing home. Looking at the pictures in their rooms, talking to them makes me realise who they once were. Now they’re just a shadow of themselves, but we should always treat them with respect.

How to treat people
Courtesy of Imgur

This post was written for the Weekly Writing Challenge.

So much to do, so little time

I haven’t been blogging as much as I wanted the last few weeks. Partly because I’m feeling very tired, partly because I’m very busy.

Last week we had a week off. Jay and I both figured we could relax a bit and do some DIY. Wrong! We did lots of DIY, but little relaxing. We put the skirtingboards in the living room up and painted to window frames upstairs, so hopefully we can put the insect screens up before we’ll be bugged by bugs all night. I also made some mental notes about what I’d like to do to the garden once spring arrives.
And that’s pretty much all we did. The skirtingboards took us 4 evenings, the painting took us 3 solid days. Bye bye week off.
I really hope my tiredness disappears when spring starts. It always does, but every year I’m scared it might not disappear this year.

On monday I’ll be going back to work and Tuesday will be a solid day of studying. I really dislike studying, but I have to do it. So our time off will be forgotten very quickly…
Hopefully I’ll be back to blogging a bit more once I’m feeling a bit better and we have finished the window frames.

A rule to live by

Have you ever had a mentor? What was the greatest lesson you learned from him or her? Daily prompt asks us.

My opinion is that you learn something from everyone you meet. You just need to filter out the most important things. There are two things, rules if you like, I live by.

The first is: Be true to yourself. Because if you aren’t, you are not you anymore. And you are the most important person to you.

The second is: No matter what situation you are in, always think “how would I want to be treated?” If you treat someone with disrespect, would you like it if you were in their shoes? Many times a day I take a little step back and ask myself “What if I was him/her. How would I feel? This, to me, is extremely important in my work. I’m dealing with people who, now, need a lot of help. But they’ve been around for so much longer than I have. And now a 25 (cough cough) year old comes in and tells them what they should do? Don’t think I’d like that very much… So I try to treat them with the respect I would want. I try to see them as the person they once were, not the man who forgets everything or the woman who just pees her pants because she has no bladder control. He had a good running business, she was head nurse. You can’t forget that and just see them like they are now. They once were like I am now.

Dementia is a bitch

After reading this post by ChickenRuby, I felt I have something to contribute to the discussion.
Not about children with special needs, but about elders who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Like ChickenRuby, I’ve been bitten, pinched, hit, spat on, kicked and called names (being called a Nazi really hurt my feelings and made me cry). Most of the times by the person suffering from dementia, sometimes by a family member of the client.

Family members tend to think they know their relative better than we do. But we see their relative every day, for hours. We see that they are getting worse, that they forget more and more. Most clients have a tendency to act better when their relatives are around. But when they leave, the clients gets back to its normal self. The one that (in many cases) can’t perform even simple tasks.


For families this is very hard to understand. I once cared for a woman who, physically, was fine. But mentally she knew nothing. Yet she wanted to go out, walk around the village, go to the harbour. Her daughter thought that was fine and was very angry when I told her I couldn’t let her mother go out unless someone was with her.
Mind you, she’d got lost quite a few times before. Luckily, in a small community everyone knew her and brought her back, but the ordeal made her get worse every time.

Or the gentleman who thought he could still drive his car around. One time, when I went home, I got stuck behind him. I was waiting for the traffic light to turn green when he suddenly overtook me (wrong side of the road) and drove through the red light, almost hitting a few cyclists. I got stuck behind him for 10 kilometers. Couldn’t get past him at all. He swerved from one side to the other, breaking randomly and going 50 KM/H instead of 80. It was dangerous.
I talked about this with my manager and coworkers and the advice was given to his children that they’d sell off the car. One agreed, the other one didn’t. So the car stayed. We called it in with the police, they came around and talked to the man, but he flat-out refused to give up his car or his driver’s license. In the end we had to call the police whenever we saw him leave and hope that he wouldn’t cause an accident.

Of course it’s hard acknowledge that your relative can’t do what they used to do. They slowly travel back in time further and further. Until, finally, their body gives up and they die. And that’s hard. But don’t ignore the signs, don’t ignore the people who care for them. They know what they’re talking about, they know your relative better than you do, really.

Dealing with dementia is like dealing with a child with special needs. They don’t see what consequences their behaviour might have. They simply don’t know. They tend to think they can do whatever they always did, but that time has passed.
And that’s hard. On the client and on the family.

Cartoon by TeddyTietz

Price of disposable washcloths

This is an update after my previous post about disposable washcloths.

In that blog post I wrote that I didn’t think the argument of “disposable washcloths are cheaper than normal ones” was valid. After doing some math (and I’m terrible at that) it turns out I was right!

Here are my findings:

1 pack of disposable washcloths cost € 0,69.
1 x 6 KG load of laundry (60C) costs € 0,92.
1 normal washcloth weighs in at 35 grams on avarage.This means there are 171 washcloths in 6 KG of laundry.

If we do a simple sum it comes to this:

  • 1 disposable washcloth costs € 0,14
  • 1 normal washcloth costs € 0,005

If we make it a bit more awesome, it comes to this:

  • 171 normal washcloths in 6 KG of laundry cost € 0,92
  • 171 disposable washcloths (compared to 5 normal) cost € 23,60

That is if we would use 5 normal washcloths for each person every day!
But we never use that many. We use 1 or 2 at most. So let’s do this sum again, only comparing those 5 disposable ones we have to use (or throw away) each day to the 2 we normally use:

  • 171 normal washcloths in 6 KG of laundry cost € 0,92
  • 171 disposable washcloths (comapred to 2 normal) cost € 58,99

So, in conclusion; If we pay less than € 3,99 a KG to the company doing the laundry, normal washcloths are cheaper (171×0,14:6=3,99).

Remember, this is comparing the disposable washcloths against the cost of laundry of normal washcloths. I did not take into account the cost of buying new washcloths. I didn’t think that was neccesary!

I will take this up with my manager as I really think this is not cost-effective at all!

Using disposable washclothes, right or wrong?

Today, at work, we had a presentation about using disposable washcloths. The idea is that, from now on, with every person who’s bedridden or needs to be washed in bed, we will be using these disposable washcloths.
There were a few points that they brought up that (according to them) are really important.

disposable washclothFirstly, these washcloths are a lot cheaper to use than normal washcloths and towels. One pack contains five washcloths and cost € 0,69. A quick search reveals that doing one load of laundry costs around € 0.92. So it appears to be cheaper. But how many washcloths and towels are in one load of laundry? Way more than 5, I can tell you that.

My second point is that they told us it was cleaner. While I can agree to that, the story was not all that it cracked up to be. They told us that we can use one or more packs a day. The clothes we don’t use can be kept up to 24 hours. After that we have to throw them out.
They have to be heated in a microwave. They’ve just told us that there are always germs all over the services we store things on and how it’s bad for older people to come into contact with those germs. So we put the package on a bedside table (germ ridden), open it, use what we need and store the rest in the bathroom. Then, when we need one again, we put the package (now germ ridden too) in the microwave and begin to wash again. After we’re done we put their food in that same microwave! When I pointed that out I got told that this wasn’t a problem as they were their own germs. This does not add up.

Thirdly, they told us it would be a lot quicker. They said we could safe 10 minutes on each client. Well, let me tell you this: I spend 10 minutes washing someone. No more. So, does this mean I can wash them in 0 minutes? It must be.

My fourth point is that they said people like the warmth of the cloth. Well, excuse me, but I never ever wash someone with cold water. I always use warm water and my clients are always happy with the temperature of the cloth! Towels I hang over the radiator to warm them up a bit before using. So again, I’m not convinced!

Fifth, they told us these clothes were tested against allergies. But they did not reveal the outcome of these tests. Now I might be way too suspicious, but I don’t trust any test results of tests carried out by people who had an interest in the product tested.

Fluffy TowelMy idea of these things is that they are just plain horrible to use. They smell terrible, they feel terrible (okay, I only felt them cold, but I did not like touching them). And I fail to see how such a product will help our clients to feel at home. They’ve been using normal clothes and towels all of their lives and now they suddenly need to use disposable ones?

So, do you have any experience with these disposable washcloths? Do you like using them? Either for yourself or for others? Because I do not look forward to using them.

I’d rather use a nice fluffy washcloth and towel over the disposable ones.