Archive for November 30th, 2011
Posted on November 30, 2011 - by Nurse Virginia
He started off every day angry, and his mood never got much better. Charlie was 92 years old and had Alzheimer’s disease for some time now. He could still respond when asked a question, and always answered no when asked if he had any pain.
Charlie’s son said he had always been a happy man with an easy going way. Yet now he always looked angry, and during times of direct care he was inclined to hit his caregivers and grab at their hands and arms. There were more than a few staff members with bruises from Charlie.
Then one day a nurse who had been trained in caring for elderly persons with Alzheimer’s disease worked a shift on Charlie’s unit. She didn’t ask Charlie if he was in pain, she just gave the Tylenol that was ordered “as needed.” She knew that Charlie had on open area on his bottom and was incontinent of urine and bowel. While sitting in his wheelchair she knew he must be uncomfortable.
Sure enough Charlie looked less angry and was now speaking more and even greeting people. The nurse carefully read through Charles’s chart and found that he had a history of pain in his left shoulder on movement. He had gone through much testing and it was never found what was causing this pain. However this nurse knew that there would be much movement of that arm helping Charlie to get dressed every morning.
No wonder Charlie had started every day angry. His arm had been moved to dress him, and he hadn’t been given anything for pain before the open area on his bottom had been cleaned and medicated.
The ability of this nurse to put herself in Charlie’s place and think about how he must be feeling, not how he was answering questions, when he could no longer express himself accurately made all the difference. Now the staff could see and enjoy the man that his son had been telling them about. The man who was always happy and had an easy going way.
Virginia Garberding R.N.
Director of Education, The Wealshire, Lincolnshire, Illinois
Author: Please Get To Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance