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Monday, October 5, 2020

Pandemic Hope and Healing (Video 2:29)

                                     


                                  "The wound is not my fault. 
                             But the healing is my responsibility."

 

Healing the spirit has often been associated positively in healthcare by patients and healthcare providers. That perspective has been associated with successful aging and a better tolerance of physical and emotional stress. The ability to cope with serious diseases and with isolation is especially important in older adults.  

 

With all the death and sorrow that the pandemic has brought into our lives, it is important that we do not overlook the good it has brought. For many, the pandemic has improved our quality of life by teaching us to analyze better how we spend our time. Without planning to do so, we have come to realize what really matters, what we really need to live and what we can do without. Many people have learned the rewards of giving to others, the blessing of gratitude, and the hope of future possibilities. This video inspires with a pandemic message of hope and healing.

 



Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

A Great-Grandmother Who Listened


                             


I was born and raised in the Jim Crow racial segregation of the South. I sat behind the signs for white people on the public bus and  stood when empty seats were not available for colored people. I drank clear water from the "colored" fountain and attended segregated schools that were not equal. I grew up experiencing America’s daily misery of racial injustice. Like many African Americans who remember being colored, Negro, and Black, my unimportance to the larger society was the norm.

But something special happened to me when I was very young. I bonded with my great-grandmother. I didn’t realize until I was much older that many children did not have or even know their great-grandmothers like I did. I knew a woman who smiled when I entered a room, a woman whose arms hugged me with soft wrinkled skin. I remember a vision crowned with gray hair that made her look like a queen. That was my Mama Lelia.

What really made Mama Lelia so special was that she listened to me, I mean really listened to whatever I had to say. I had plenty to say long before I started school. I think I was around four when I realized this wonder of a woman and I belonged exclusively to each other. I was much younger, and she was much older. We were two extremes creating a close partnership through casual conversations.

I shared everything I saw, heard, smelled, tasted and touched with her in words. She shared her patient power of paying attention. My words poured out from a place of knowing she was eager to hear me. Her gentle smile revealed enthusiastic acceptance that affirmed my worth when she responded with passionate praise such as “That’s so nice, baby” and “Just keep on doing your best!”  

In another world on this same Earth where I lived far away from Mama Lelia’s special haven-heaven, every day was a reminder of how insignificant I was to many people, mostly white people. Signs everywhere told me I was not welcome. Images of brown children were often not popular in a positive way. Because I was colored, I was unfairly denied many beneficial experiences white children enjoyed, including the use of a public library, a warehouse of words I craved, on the same block where I lived. 

Inside our little paradise where I was always appreciated, Mama Lelia listened to me with adoring attention that was far more powerful than either of us could have imagined then. Her loving listening when I yearned so much to be heard helped me know to this very day that my black life matters.


Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Staff Bullies in Older Adult Senior Living Communities: Anti-Bullying Culture



By Frances Shani Parker

The American Psychological Association defines bullying as aggressive physical contact, words or actions to cause another person injury or discomfort. When bullying becomes embedded in the culture of a senior living community, it can include staff members bullying residents as well as residents bullying other residents. One out of five seniors is bullied by peers. Bullied seniors are hurt through feelings of sadness and fear, along with difficulties conducting everyday activities. This post focuses on staff bullies.

An eldercare consultant, I am familiar with numerous senior resident stories related to bullying, including my own. This story involves two residents who were discussing how housekeepers do their jobs. One said she timed her housekeeper and discovered the housekeeper was cleaning her apartment in only seven minutes, which she felt was too short a time. The other resident agreed and asked if she had reported this to the housekeeping supervisor. The complaining senior responded, “No, I didn’t report it. When you report some of these workers, they get back at you by punishing you for telling on them. I had that happen to me before. It's too stressful.” In other bullying scenarios, r
esidents may silently
tolerate repeated and sometimes deliberate incidents of being served cold food, late food, damaged food, or no food at all to avoid a staff member's revenge. Physical neglect and abuse in caregiving are other issues. This is life for too many residents where staff bullying has become the unspoken norm in the culture of the community.

Bullying behavior is encouraged when building administrators are remiss in managing employees. Administrators must be proactive in management if they are serious about solving bullying problems and general work conditions in their communities. They should be familiar with workers' union contract agreements. Addressing sporadic bullying incidents without the context of a larger anti-bullying plan or even a basic employee progressive, corrective discipline plan usually fails.  Problems are rarely solved when administrators mainly resort to repeated unproductive conversations where bullies lie or convince them that they will change and don't. Bullies who receive no negative consequences from their wrongdoing have little or no incentive to stop and even more reasons to take pride in their manipulative skills over lax administrators. Unfortunately, residents are reminded too often that their needs are not a high priority, and the bullying continues.

When administrative assistance is not forthcoming, victims of staff and resident bullying should seek support from families and friends. 
An ombudsperson, who is an official public advocate, can give free advice or directly address residents' complaints that are not being handled well in senior communities. Residents can
document evidence with written descriptions and photos to send to appropriate agencies with their complaints. Under the Fair Housing Act, a landlord can be held liable for not protecting tenants from known forms of bullying. Legal options are available for civil rights violations. Within a bullying culture, the numbers of confrontations initiated by staff members toward residents are often much higher than suspected because of residents' reluctance to complain. While residents continue to suffer, administrators remain complacently unaware.  It would be easy to say it's all the residents' fault for not complaining more. But with a vulnerable population living in a culture of bullying, is it really?

More and more senior communities are making anti-bullying changes. The Internet, numerous senior organizations such as AARP, senior publications, books, videos, and anti-bullying workshops for senior communities can provide significantly helpful information regarding the creation of 
an anti-bullying culture. 
A formal anti-bullying policy driven by the administration with staff and resident input is included in a community handbook, so everyone shares common goals and references. Postings of "Bully-Free Zone" or "No Reserved Seating" in their buildings remind residents and visitors that everyone's rights are respected. Bullies in power at the expense of residents’ healthy quality of life, especially during a painful pandemic, disrupt the primary purpose of senior living communities where home should be a good feeling, not just a place to live.


You can view more helpful information including research and a video on senior bullying at my blog post titled "Older Adult Senior Bullying: No Home Sweet Home."

My LinkedIn article titled "Bullying Solutions in Older Adult Senior Communities" is another source of information.


Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Body Disposal, Funeral (Video 5:45)


With so many people dying in the United States due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the process of death and body disposal have taken on new meanings. Being a funeral director in New York City has become a much busier and cautious undertaking. Included are high-level safety procedures focused on protecting at-risk lives of the living.

Social distance funerals are becoming more common in cases of COVID-19 deceased persons. Loved ones are not always able to communicate their feelings in person before the deceased dies. Unfortunately, research studies have not focused on outcomes and support for bereaved people during a pandemic. Research on the impact of COVID -19 grief and bereavement during other infectious disease outbreaks such as pandemics have tended to focus on survivors who had the illness and recovered. More focus should include innovative ways to promote connection and adapt rituals while maintaining respect. Strong leadership and coordination between different bereavement organizations is essential to providing successful post-bereavement support.

What is it really like being a funeral director during the coronavirus pandemic? This video answers that question while adding eye-opening information into serious issues involved in bringing deceased bodies to final closure.


  


Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Old Love Wedding Anniversary Quarantined by Coronavirus (Video 2:30)



Let’s talk about love, more specifically, old love. That could include a heartwarming discussion about the 72nd wedding anniversary of Alden and Hester Barkel. Neighbors and friends for years before sealing their union in marriage, the 92 year-olds continue to nurture each other as often as they can. For Alden, that means visiting Hester, who lives with dementia, not once, but twice a day at the senior community where she lives. That’s where they rekindle the many memories they have made together through the years.

The question is asked: "Is there anything more beautiful in life than a young couple clasping hands and pure hearts on the path of marriage? Can there be anything more beautiful than young love? And the answer is given: Yes, there is a more beautiful thing. It is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled, but still clasped; their faces are seamed, but still radiant; their hearts are physically bowed and tired, but still strong with love and devotion for each other. Yes, there is a more beautiful thing than young love. Old love." Unknown

Blowing kisses with their hands pressed against the window glass separating them, Alan and Hester did not let the coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantine stop the observance of their many years of union celebrating their old love.


    
Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Poem for Older Adult Senior Communities



                               
                                               They know you, a bold executioner
                                               roaming their halls seeking humans
                                               to complete your pandemic purpose.
                                               Nights follow days in a quarantined
                                               existence of food, TV and hobbies.

                                              Thoughts of limited time increase
                                               survival of those determined to live.
                                               With distance, washing and masks,
                                               they wrestle with fear, while nearby

                                               victims scramble for scraps of life.
                                               Whispers saying, “She has the virus”
                                               and “He died yesterday” create new
                                               visions of people wracked with pain.
                                               Healthcare workers wearing full-body
                                               protection suits seem sinister, surreal,
                                               surprising in a place known as home.
                                               Posted photographs of deceased friends
                                               remind them of good times that will end.
                                               Their new normal is difficult, but doable.
                                               Mugged by history, they pray for peace.

                                                     
                                               © Frances Shani Parker


Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers. Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog Website: http://www.francesshaniparker.com/

Monday, April 6, 2020

A Volunteer's Calling (Poem)

                                                    
“Defining Moments” is a poem I wrote after a series of events led to my becoming a hospice volunteer. Hospice volunteering crept up on me unnoticed during the HIV-AIDS pandemic that was one of the world’s most serious public health challenges. Early in the 1980's, the Centers for Disease Control reported five cases of AIDS in young homosexual men in Los Angeles, California. By 1994, AIDS had become the leading cause of death for all Americans ages 25 to 44.

Before the 1990's, I was not attracted to being actively involved in the healthcare field. I also wasn't skilled in caregiving at a personal level, sometimes feeling awkward around sick people in general. Nobody is more surprised than yours truly that I have been a satisfied hospice volunteer over 20 years involved with bedside caregiving in nursing homes, eldercare consulting, authoring a book, and eldercare blogging. You can read about my compelling transformation that includes a video in this LinkedIn article titled "Hospice Volunteer? No Thanks, Not Me!" (Video 3:25).


“Defining Moments” is one of 16 original poems at the end of each chapter of my book titled Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes. Several readers have told me that “Defining Moments” resonates with them when they read it. As a writer, I appreciate knowing when something I have written connects with other people. But I was especially surprised one day when a man I did not know well had actually memorized the entire poem and approached me while reciting it aloud. This was followed by his sharing a heartfelt explanation of a defining moment in his own life. Perhaps this poem will remind you of a defining moment in your life when past met future.

Defining Moments

They come without warning,
grab us in chokeholds of change,
fling us into outer space
where past meets future.
In this realm resonating
with first-time knowledge,
we awaken wide-eyed,
infused with wisdom
to turn around, stand still
or move forward with clarity.
No matter how they smack,
stroke, lift, drop, push, kiss
or kick us to get our attention,
when they finish their mission,
we are permanently scarred.

© Frances Shani Parker
 

 

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Amazing Grace and Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic (U.S. President Barack Obama Video 2:30)


I greet you today during troubling times that I could not have imagined. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is creating a disastrous path of global pain that currently has no ending date. 

Many are particularly vulnerable to the disease and its accompanying hardships. Let us make every effort to take care of ourselves and others whenever we can. Fear, confusion, scarcity, ignorance, and daily living restrictions impact everyone. Condolences of sympathy are sent to families of those who have died.

Music is often consoling and empowering during times like this. When we are open spiritually, an inspiring song can often strengthen our higher selves in the process of overcoming. The video below offers that encouragement through U.S. President Barack Obama. Let us tap into that amazing grace as our journey continues.


Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Monday, March 16, 2020

Older Adult Technology Use (Research, Video 3:14)



I remember when I had to dial a phone number to access the Internet. Technology has come a mighty long way. My early computers all had names, and I vented my frustrations to them personally when they harassed me daily with their complicated maneuvers. Sapphire, an overbearing laptop of a woman loved, hated, and tormented me with a vengeance that forced me to write poems about our ongoing squabbles. With all these haunting memories, however, I still must confess that mastering the basics and more has been one of the best things I have ever done and continue to do. 

Every day, I see important examples of how I would have been left behind if I had not taken advantage of opportunities to navigate my way on the Internet, even basically. When TV news reporters make comments about going “to our website for more information" about disaster assistance, product recalls, high crime and accident locations, etc., I am reminded of all the people who are unable to receive these services on their own and probably worry about what they are missing. 

Research on older adults reports that those who continue using the Internet are more likely to gain significant cognitive improvement. Even though numerous public facilities offer free or inexpensive technology classes for using computers, smart phones, etc., too many older adults have refused to try them or have given up by saying, “I don’t do all that computer stuff. It’s just too confusing.”
Research results conclude that "older adults who continue using the Internet were more likely to gain significant cognitive gains and lower cognitive loss. Promoting Internet use in older adults can help a strategy for cognitive stimulation in older adults."


The following video shares important statistics on how older adults use technology to meet and expand their information needs:

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Older Adult LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Issues (Research, Video 3:30)


There is no question that older adults who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) belong to a population subjected often to adverse discrimination in society and experience unique health needs. Approximately 2.7 million U.S. older adults self-identify as being members of this population. Many feel unsafe revealing their sexual orientation and may not be willing to reveal their sexual orientation to their medical providers. Institutions that focus on providing them with support must implement more staff development and dissemination of homophobia training and policy changes that positively impact older adult LGBT quality of life.

A research study was done to increase understanding of the experiences and needs of older LGBT adults when accessing healthcare. Results of the study included three major themes. The themes were "Outness," "Things are Different Now," and "Additional Resources." These themes describe participants comfort with being "out," how treatment they received changed over time, and needed services or other options from the community. Healthcare providers must be prepared to create trusting relationships with these individuals to deliver truly comprehensive care.

Aging adds another layer of concerns for those in the older adult LGBT community. Like millions of others in this quickly expanding population, they must think about where and how they will live. This includes serious concerns about discrimination and bullying targeting them in senior communities. This video features LGBTsenior issues related to discrimination in long-term care homes.

 

 

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Monday, February 24, 2020

Good Death Views: Patients, Relatives, Healthcare Providers (Research, Video 1:40)

Improving quality of life should be an ongoing goal, even as death approaches. While many embrace thoughts of having a good death, what exactly do they mean at personal levels? What do patients, relatives, general practitioners, and other healthcare providers mean when they speak of dying in a good way when recovery is no longer available? The following research on a good death explains their responses.

Research participants were asked how important patients, close relatives, and healthcare providers considered 11 core themes in defining a good death. Specific questionnaires were used for each group and distributed in the working area of a palliative care network with the cooperation of five local quality groups, two nursing homes, and two groups of home care nurses. Data were analyzed. The following results were reported:

     1. All groups believed a pain-free death was most significant.

     2. General practitioners, nurses, patients, and close relatives valued the       following themes: support of family, respect for patient as an individual, being able to say goodbye, and euthanasia in case of unbearable suffering.

     3. Major differences between general practitioners and nurses deserve      attention because patients and family members expect that healthcare providers will work together as a team.

What about you and your own personal expectations of a good death beyond being pain-free? In this video, several people share their opinions on what a good death means to them:


Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Monday, February 17, 2020

Mardi Gras Celebration with Older Adult Seniors (Video 3:36)

Mardi Gras celebrations are common in older adult communities around the world. It's a great time for fantasy, dancing, food and fun! Through the years, I have had the good fortune of witnessing entertaining Mardi Gras merriment enhancing quality of life. I store all my Mardi Gras memories in a marvelous, mental, treasure chest painted with purple, green and gold brush strokes, the official colors of Mardi Gras. I always smile when I look inside. No doubt, amused older adults will be smiling this Mardi Gras 2020 and many Mardi Gras seasons to come.

Older adults celebrating this world-famous Carnival season often have numerous parades, balls, and parties starting on January 6th. In many places, parades are held during the day and at night until the biggest celebration on Mardi Gras day. Mardi Gras day, known also as “Fat Tuesday,” falls on the day before the Christian season of Lent starts. It can fall on any Tuesday between February 3rd and March 9th. These are upcoming Mardi Gras dates:

February 25, 2020
February 16, 2021
March 1, 2022
February 21, 2023
February 13, 2024
March 4, 2025
February 17, 2026
February 9, 2027

Featured on my blog this year in the video below is “Dancing with the Seniors Mardi Gras Edition” presented by Nexion Health affiliates, New Iberia Manor South, Village Creek Rehabilitation Nursing Center, and Reliant Rehabilitation. Join them in a wonderful Mardi Gras celebration. The party has already started!



Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.