Each month we poll a group of readers, selected at random, and encourage them to share their thoughts and suggestions with our readers via the Journal.
Describe five points that visitors to patients in long-term care institutions should remember.
Mildred L. Hamner, RN, MSN, EdD from the University of Alabama School of Nursing in Birmingham, Alabama replied:
1. Be a good listener and make them feel important and needed.
2. Do not "talk down" to them.
3. Use reminiscence as an adaptive mechanism.
4. Recognize the use of projection and displacement as coping mechanisms.
5. Provide sensory stimulation (i.e. bring the world in to them).
Kathleen M. Looney, RN, C, MN from Southern Baptist Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, replied:
1 . Be yourself.
2. Bring "good news" from the outside world, but if you must bring bad news, offset it with some good news.
3. Check with the dietician or nurse before bringing food.
4. Be sure any candy or cookies (or other food) are in closed containers.
5. If possible, take the patient to another area of the institution for the visit - this gets them out of their rooms.
Frank A. Rasch, RN1 MS &Om the VA Medical Center-Richmond, Richmond, Virginia, said:
1. When possible, try to visit on a regular basis that is mutually convenient, even if it is just for 30 minutes. Remember, it is not the length of the visit that is important, but the visit itself.
2. Try to maintain the visitation schedule set up. These patients really anticipate having the visit. If you are delayed or cannot make it, don't forget to call!
3. Let the patient tell you of the happenings of his/her life. Share with him/ her the special moments happening at home.
4. If you get prior approval, you may want to bring the patient his/her favorite meal from home. Be prepared to share it with the patient. The patients await these days with much anticipation and talk about them to their friends and staff long afterwards.
5. To make the stay at the facility more enjoyable, bring in some personal items from home, like snapshots of the grandchildren, or pictures or his favorite chair, etc. If you can, take the patient out of the institution for a few hours for a drive in the country, to shop, or just for a cup of coffee. We all need a change of scenery once in a while.
Please describe your most unforgettable (dramatic, touching) gerontological patient.
Ruth Semple, RN of the St. Alban 's VA ExExtended Care Center, in New York said:
At 95, despite pain, suffering and impending death, MH remained valiant and noble, willing to share her happy memories. She demonstrated aging and death as a natural part of life - a combination of God's will - not always filled with loneliness and despair. Her behavior provided inspiration to all her contacts.
Louise Goren berg, RN, PHN of the San Bernardino Public Health Department, San Bernardino, California, replied:
Utterly filthy, sick and nearly blind ... my 86 year-old patient suffers from CHF, hypertension, and diabetes. Doctors insist on nursing home placement but she refuses their advice. Mothering 250 animals on a decaying, crumbling estate is her life. She steadfastly claims her right to live as she is.