Posted on July 12, 2012 - by Nurse Virginia
We had seen some pretty unbelievable things, but this really went to the top of the list. Glenn was 84 years old and his wife had died 2 ½ years ago. He said that he had trouble putting his shoes on for the past 10 years, due to severe pain and stiffness from arthritis. So his wife had put his shoes and socks on for him. When she died, he was on his own, they had never had children and nieces and nephews were far away.
Glenn did what so many elders who live on their own do; they “make do.” They figure out how to get by, so things are no longer perfect, but they do get by. Well Glenn had gotten by with not having anyone to help with his shoes by just leaving them on.
That is just what Glenn did for 2 and ½ years. When dressing he slid his pants over those shoes. When bathing he just washed up at the sink, didn’t get in a shower or bath. When he went to sleep, he slept in his shoes.
When he came to the nursing home his toe nails had grown and curved around over the toes, growing right into the sole of each shoe. His feet were full of fungus and the situation was extremely painful for Glenn. He had to have the shoes surgically removed. Surprisingly he didn’t lose his feet or even any toes. It took a whole year of difficult nursing for his feet to recover from the ordeal.
How many elders out there are just making do? They no longer can function the way they used to, but just enough to make do and well enough that no one notices.
Virginia Garberding R.N.
Director or Education, The Wealshire, Lincolnshire, Illinois
Author: Please Get To Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance
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