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Nursing home resident 'quiet time'

May 4, 2011
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The facility where I previously lived eliminated its PA system a few years before. Pages could be heard at a phone extension or at the nurse stations. Trays were not called and residents were not paged to meals. It could be inconvenient when all residents needed to know when an event was happening, but the lack of noise overhead was such a blessing to me.

Now I live in the different facility where the PA system is in full force. Everything is announced loudly. Residents go to the dining room for meals and activities and they are called there multiple times on the PA. I have gotten used to it, even though there are days when it can be deafening.

The PA is not the only noise issue. A resident who is catty-corner across the hall listens to Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC and Metallica all day long. Some days it is very difficult to concentrate. Closing my door helps, but that can also make me lose track of time and feel insecure.

Then there is the roommate noise. She likes her music and TV loud. Hospitals solved this problem with speakers located close to the patient's ear. But there is nothing similar in nursing homes.

For a few months I have been working on noise solutions with my roommate. I have acquired or purchased several radios and headsets/ear buds that allow her to listen to music privately. Unfortunately, one radio fell out of bed and broke, and she sold the second one to another resident. The last one I bought was cheap and the ear buds went bad quickly. (She plays the radio so loud that she blows out the headsets or ear buds.)

I considered getting a wireless headset to hear only my TV. But since I already wear a cell phone headset, wearing another one could be difficult or impossible. I ended up buying earplugs, but am hesitant to use them because I am afraid I will not hear something important. I also cannot reach up and pull the earplugs out when I want to because of my disability.

While I look for other noise solutions, I am trying to train my brain to ignore extraneous noises. I know I can do it at times—for instance, when I sleep through my roommate’s snoring, or when I get in the zone writing. But some days that is more difficult than others.

In the future, maybe residents will be together but with some separate space. While I value the security my roommate provides, each of us needs to have some quiet time on our own.

Kathleen Mears


Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is...



Your right to your own personal "quiet time" is a right and not a privilege.

Noise surround each and every one of us (institutionalized or not) and sometimes in the spring and summer when the windows are open... and you are trying to sleep... sometimes a constant bird chirping can drive you nuts!

I had to be hospitalized in Brooklyn New York in the middle 90s and I could not believe that people could live with all that noise! Especially overnight. Car alarms were CONSTANTLY going off because of thieves and it was just all noise, noise, noise. Brooklynites must have learned a way to live among all that noise so you are not alone.

I am trying to work on this myself (along with many other needs) by seriously looking into meditation. It's been about a month and a half (perhaps two months or more since time flies) whereby I have been practicing meditation via some free online tools (PDF files and CDs).

Meditation definitely takes practice but I have found it to work during times of anxiety, chronic pain, escape or even noise.

If you go to a website called Project Meditation... you should be able to download this free wonderful information (meditation made simple not complex).

Oooops ... in a more recent blog you say you DO meditate. Great!

Good luck!