How nursing facilities have changed my lifestyle

When I first moved to a nursing home 16 years ago, I thought I would keep busy reading, writing letters to friends and talking to others. 

But with a call light cord around my hand, I was not able to turn pages to read. Instead, I read in my room in the daytime with my door open and without the call light on. Several months later the facility got me a “blow in” call light. But by that time, my arms were weaker and I no longer had the reading in bed habit.  

When I first experienced the Internet, I knew anything I wanted to read was there and that more would be available in the future. Many nights I sat at the computer and read until 1 a.m. 

Since my functional limitations ruled out a laptop, I read on my desktop during the day and evening and watched TV when I was in bed. 

After several years I asked to eat all my meals in my room. I hated waiting for meals, especially since I had no way to read or do anything useful while unpropped in a power chair. In my room I read on my desktop before, during,and after meals. Sometimes I wondered if management would challenge me about my quiet, “to myself” lifestyle. But, I decided to enjoy it while I had it.

When that facility got a new owner, the unit coordinator said my life was unbalanced because I spent too much time on the computer. I had to move away from the computer during meals, and sit next to the aide feeding me—whether or not we had conversation. 

Though I did as I was told, I felt not letting me read on the computer at will removed intellectual stimulation which was in short supply at that facility. Instead of augmenting my knowledge of the day’s news watching evening TV, it became my primary source for news of the day’s events. I lost the time and my joy for reading the news and it has not returned. 

This facility requires me to eat meals in the dining room. Since I need to be fed, I spend a great deal of time waiting. Mealtimes have cut my computer time from seven hours a day (at my former facility) to four hours a day here. My alternatives are to stay on the computer into the evening until I am overly tired, or cut out lunch and take a protein drink for nourishment. To me, giving up lunch does not seem like a bad trade-off for more time on the computer.

Maybe the new desktop I will be getting will turn toward my bed, so I can use it. New equipment may allow me time to write a book(s) I seem destined to write. 

Topics: Clinical