Nursing Home Rounds
By D. Knoedler, MD; Geriatric Psychiatry; 3/19/13

The day started on a high note. As I sat and chatted with an elderly patient sitting in her wheelchair, calm, not recollecting much, she all of a sudden sang:

The Old Gray Mare just ain't what she used to be, ain't what she used to be, ain't what she used to be . . .

The tune "The Old Gray Mare" was about a steed named Lady Suffolk. She was purportedly the first to run a mile in under two and a half minutes. This was on July 4, 1843, when she was over 10 years of age.

Her eyes twinkled at me, and she giggled a little snicker, and grinned at me. I was killed. I could have proposed without even a moment's pause. My day lit up. "Many thanks to you," I thought.

Later, the attendants demanded I see another patient: another elderly lady whose memory was blurring. Her "ladies" (the medical attendants, that is) thought she was discouraged. They were concerned, and trusted I could guide her move into whatever came next.

I found the modest, slim lady in her bed, in her common room, behind her curtain. She was exceptionally slight, and wearing a tidy white shirt, a weave sweater unfastened, basic jeans, and white pressure leggings on her shoeless feet.

She took a gander at me as I drew closer—she was completely alert, simply lying there calmly.

I hauled out the majority of my best inquiries and attempted to reach and see how she was feeling, without any result. Her answers were short and hesitant. At last, I proclaimed, "Is there anything at all that is disturbing you?"

She took a gander at me, surveying me a bit.

"Yes," she said.

I held up. She didn't offer much else.

At long last, I asked, "What is annoying you?"

She stopped a minute, then said, "My feet are standing out over the edge of the bed."

I looked. Her minimal white, TED-stockinged feet were standing out over the edge of the bed.

She didn't have the ability to force them in.

I gazed toward her face. As she looked at me, it wasn't clear whether she anticipated my next words.

Would you like me to put your feet into the bed?" I inquired.

"Yes," she said.

Delicately, I lifted her minimal feet and placed them into the bed, and after that pulled the little knitted infant blue cover that secured her legs over her feet.

"Much obliged to you," I thought as I strolled back to the nursing station. Much obliged to you.

 

 

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