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Turn Down the Bed- Leave Chocolates (If They’ll Let You)


I feel like every time one of my parents is in the hospital, it becomes a training session for my siblings. Let me share our latest experience. I was visiting my mother, an 84 year old stroke victim, in her hospital room. She was complaining of pain in her arm. I pulled back her covers to find her arm swollen and red. Her IV line had infiltrated and the fluid was being delivered into her tissue, not her vein.  A quick press of the call bell (the nurses know me) and a new IV line was inserted in her other arm before I left.

Little did I know that I missed my brother by just minutes before I had arrived. When I called him later that evening to compare notes on Mom’s care, I told him about the IV line & that she’d probably wind up with swelling and bruising. His response was “Oh, that’s why she was complaining of pain.” I indignantly asked “Didn’t you look under the covers !!?.” His reply was he didn’t want to see Mom in a hospital gown. Typical son. Typical anyone.

When visiting with a loved one in a hospital or nursing home, looking at their face, hoping to see that they look a little better since the last visit, isn’t enough. Your senior parents need a head- to-toe inspection. You can see many things if you know what to look for- such as cleanliness, incontinence, swollen limbs, unexplained bruises, skin rashes, pressure sores. You can feel things too, like warmth, fever, sites painful to touch, cold hands and feet.

Life is like a bell curve, I always say… You go out pretty much the same way you come in. You need to be fed, held, diapered, and understood when you can’t speak for yourself. If you were a baby in a hospital, I’d bet your mother would have you unwrapped for a complete inspection before the nurse even knew she arrived. Shouldn’t you do the same for her?

The views and opinions expressed by Perspectives contributors are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or recommendations of the American Nurses Association, the Editorial Advisory Board members, or the Publisher, Editors and staff of American Nurse Journal. These are opinion pieces and are not peer reviewed.

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