Life At The Old Folk’s Home (cont.)

Life At The Old Folk’s Home: A Reprise

I’ve been in the old folk’s home almost three months now. Is that long enough to say I understand it yet? I don’ think so. At the best, I think I’m beginning to have some hints. The food here is good, for which I am grateful. But the correlation between what you order and what you get is so low that you have to wonder if there is supposed to be any. What goes on between the wait staff and the cooks is literally a mystery me.

I’ve tried to guess, but have yet to come up with a satisfactory explanation. At first I thought the mystery might have something to do with the problem of dealing with the numerous restrictions the cook staff has in meeting the doctor’s desires for the individuals living here and the dietary demands of a massive culinary program. I came to this guess when I observed the head of the kitchen step in to tell a woman she could not have her desired desert, ice cream, because she is on a weight-loss diet. But I quickly abandoned this idea when I later learned that even prohibitions against alcohol associated with common medications are routinely ignored by kitchen staff (yes, we are routinely served alcohol, here)

And inconsistency is probably more common than its opposite.

Let me give a few examples: “basting” is, apparently, an unknown term so far as the cooking staff is concerned. No one seems to have put the unknown together with google, either. I have ordered two eggs, lightly basted, served over hash-browns every morning since I got here. Only twice, before today, have I seen eggs to which I might grant even the ” basted” status. Those may have been,  “light,” but I have  become so inured to over medium, as the weeks have gone on, that I  no longer trust my own judgment. This morning I was served first scrambled eggs and then, upon my rejection, a single egg, which may have been basted. The toast was abandoned in the hubbub.

Why have I just not routinely rejected an ill-prepared dish when it is delivered? I rarely do, you know. I guess it is largely due to the fact that, if you tried to make everything right around here you would never do anything else. After all, the bottom line is that none of us inmates wants to be here anyway. “Inmates” that’s  how we all think of ourselves. Not that we’re here against our will or anything, although we virtually all want the thing we all had before coming here: our youth.

The ways in which we have lost our youth, though, vary as much as we do,  A great many of us are in almost constant pain Thank god, that excludes me. More than half are here because of some form of dementia or another. If I am included in that group, I am fortunate in that I do not know it. Not everyone who works here, though, is so ready to agree with that assessment.

Part of the reason may lie in my difficulty speaking. As the M.S. has progressed, this has become a more vexing problem. Although my mind seems, to me, as sharp as ever, my tongue no longer verifies that so readily. An interesting sidelight is that there are a few caregivers here who routinely listen to your first few words, and then fill in the rest of what you were about to say, in their opinion. in their own mind. If you snooze, you loose, so what is heard is what the caregiver thought you were gong to say. That’s how communication often works, so it really is no surprise to see it here. But it is becoming a bigger problem as my ability to speak fluently for myself diminishes.

I’m also suffering from a residual of an assessment made when I first applied for residency here that neither I, nor my wife, knew was being made. Apparently a note was added to my file that I may suffer from memory loss.

Perhaps I misremembered my order this morning.

At any rate, being routinely disregarded does nothing to increase one’s own self-confidence, and surely makes whatever problems there may be worse. Randomly playing by different rules as the days go on, as the staff seems to, has the same effect. This place could drive you crazy! But then maybe that’s just a part of the business plan.

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4 Responses to Life At The Old Folk’s Home (cont.)

  1. Dallas Smith says:

    George,
    I’m sorry that you have to endure the travails of institutional care. The only thing I know to recommend is to try to maintain your sense of humor about everything. Better to laugh than cry.

  2. Diana Hamilton says:

    Clearly, George, your mind & ability to communicate by writing is quite sharp. It is so frustrating when others fill in our words – I find that it throws me off even farther as they rarely supply the word, let alone the phrase, that is escaping me. Bummer & dammit.

  3. Hank Raymond says:

    Please keep the stories coming George. Look for the humor. And create humor yourself. Maybe later you can compile your humorous stories into a humorous book.

  4. Barbara Truman says:

    the frustrated activist . . . <3

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