A resident I will call Abby hardly ever speaks. When she first came has been here a few months ago, she sat like a statue in her manual wheelchair. Sometimes, she fed herself at meals and other times she did not.
I do not know Abby’s story, but she seems to be semi catatonic. She usually does not initiate conversation. However, she does talk to some of the aides and sometimes responds to their questions. Abby can move parts of her body, and she can make it known when she is unhappy or uncomfortable.
She was hospitalized for a few weeks. When Abby returned, she was able to feed herself and was a bit more animated. She also seemed to be very hungry. She asked for second helpings at every meal.
But about a month later, she suddenly was no longer feeding herself. Since she was in a different dining room from me, I had no idea what caused her to stop. Abby was moved with me and a few others to a table in the back dining room. I watched as the aides fed her every meal, which was ground up somewhat. Every day I smiled at Abby. After a while, I began to speak to her. Her brown eyes would follow me as I entered the dining room but she never said a word.
Abby got aggravated a week ago when her aide would not feed her banana pudding first, as Abby requested. Abby picked up her banana pudding. Over the next several minutes, she and her aide had a scuffle over the dessert. Abby said she wanted the dessert now, but the aide told her she would have to wait until after the meal. Abby grabbed her table mate's pudding. Her aide took it out of her hand. Abby was fed the dessert when she finished her meal.
A few days later, an aide I will call Marie came back to work after being off for a few months. She decided to see if Abby could feed herself. Marie put the fork in Abby's hand and suggested she try taking a bite. Surprisingly enough, Abby started to eat. She ate most of her breakfast. After that, she ate lunch and supper.
Abby again fed herself with a different aide. She is still a bit uncomfortable picking up her Nosey cup to drink but perhaps they are a bit full for her to handle. The other day I complimented Abby on what a good job she did eating lunch. I asked her how the food was, and she told me it was good.
With Abby again feeding herself, her nurse is recommending the occupational therapy assistant work with her to enhance her ability to feed herself.
The other aides, nurses and residents who sit nearby were very surprised to see Abby eating independently. But, as Marie said to Abby, "If you feed yourself, you can eat whatever way you want."
Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is an incomplete quadriplegic and uses a power wheelchair to get around. Her computer is her “window on the world.” This blog shares her thoughts and view of life as a nursing home resident as well as ideas of how it might be improved in the future.
Topics: Clinical Leadership , Nutrition/Dietary , Rehabilitation