HELP LINE: Use nursing home experiences to make lists

Hearing the story of a friend’s mother’s experiences in the nursing home inspired writer to make lists of her own.


Thank you.

If you’ve been keeping track of where we are, then you know where we are.

If you haven’t … well, suffice it to say that this is the rest of a column by Sidney Cays in response to a column that I did on The Promise:

“But, happy to say, after six months of hard work and speech and physical therapists, Sissy improved enough to return home.

“She was not exactly living alone this time but with a daily ‘chore’ woman, a twice-a-week nurse and an every-Tuesday-and-Friday therapist.

“Plus both Amber and Bennie were in and out every day. And she now spent most of her time in a wheelchair.

“Sissy wasn’t really upset about these additions and changes, because the important thing was that she was home.”

Unfinished business

“But she had unfinished business. One of the first things she did was pick a morning with her daughters for ‘filling in the blanks.’

“She could now make herself understood to them and she explained to them what she wanted to do.

“She told them what she wished their choices at the nursing home had been, and Bennie took notes.

“ ‘A bed near the door — no curtains — and her glasses on always. She was not allergic to glutins and hated oatmeal.’

“They worked out lists. Bennie wrote down all of her PIN numbers and which accounts they were for.

“Amber made a note to get the paperwork to add her to Sissy’s bank account (with name and phone numbers for the banks) and with access at any time.

“She was to get a list of Sissy’s automatic-pay withdrawals.

“There was another list of all who worked for Sissy occasionally: her yardman, the handyman, the pharmacist, the grocery that delivered and their phone numbers.

“They made a list of people who should be notified if anything — another stroke, an illness, a fall — happened again and what they were to tell them.

“And Amber made a list of Sissy’s medications and what they were for.

“Every medical person had asked for this list. Amber and Bennie knew one of her medications she took, but there were three others they hadn’t known about.

“When they were done, they had a detailed series of lists that covered everything they could think of that anyone might need to know if Sissy couldn’t tell them.

“Bennie combined and arranged everything, and put it all together with headings.

“They each took a copy, left Sissy one and made extras. Most of the extra lists had no PIN numbers or bank information and could be given to anyone.

“When they were done, Sissy was smiling, knowing she would never have to eat oatmeal for breakfast again or try for an hour to open one of her accounts with a forgotten password.

“When my friend, Amber, told me about this, I thought about it.”

Story made me wonder

“I wondered if the doctors would know I can’t lie flat in a bed. Or that I have my calcium level checked and often.

“And did anyone know Nadine would take my dogs and Mark Harvey my goat?

“I went home and made a list.”

And there we are. I did edit Nadine’s last name because I don’t have her permission to use it, and if you don’t get the goat reference, never mind; it was so long ago that nobody cares.

I think that Sidney did a pretty darned good job.

And I think that she raises some interesting points.

I also think that we hear a lot about what I think so, what do you think?


Mark Harvey is director of Clallam/Jefferson Senior Information & Assistance, which operates through the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He is also a member of the Community Advocates for Rural Elders partnership. He can be reached at 360-452-3221 (Port Angeles-Sequim), 360-385-2552 (Jefferson County) or 360-374-9496 (West End), or by emailing

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