My beautiful, smart, hot shot daughter is a seasoned Nurse Practitioner and Associate Director of Nursing for heart transplant program at a major New York City hospital. She is also witty, comedic and she keeps me laughing. Here I is one of her jokes, “Mother, if you remain as difficult and grumpy when you are old and in need of care as you are now, then off to the nursing home you will go!” When she says this we always have a good laugh then I remind her that I already have my long-term care plans and quality of life goals in writing. As a Clinical Social Worker and Geriatric Care Manager I know all too well that it might come to pass for me that home care will end and going to a skilled nursing facility is where I will go. I'm okay with that. So, when my hot-shot nurse practitioner daughter and I get down to our serious talks, this is what I tell her counting off on my ten fingers:
1. I have a plan. My primary care doctor has a copy of my health care proxy.
2. I have a backup plan. As the primary agent of my health care proxy, hot shot daughter-nurse is responsible for producing it in an emergency. In my professional life, I'm constantly surprised that people cannot find this document.
3. I really am realistic. I plan to live in my own home for as long as possible, but I do not romanticize that living at home is the only habitat as I age. Dear daughter-nurse practitioner-health care agent if you do ship me off to a nursing home, then please follow these additional written wishes for dignity.
4. How I will be addressed. Please tell all the staff at the nursing home to say my name. They should never, not ever refer to me as “mama.” I am Janet or Ms. Smith and I will not answer to any cute, generic pet names.
5. How the staff will conduct themselves. Keep the noise down at night. Old folks need our sleep. I want to know who is taking care of me. The nursing home staff must wear their name badges visible to me so that I call them by name and not “sweetie,” or “hey there nurse.”
6. I want to be surrounded by music, music and more music. Make me a play list of Barbara Streisand, Diana Ross, Sam Smith, Journey, Billie Joel, Luther Vandross, Lionel Richie, lady Gaga and Aretha Franklin. Play my play list over and over. Don’t forget my gospel and some classical music in the mix.
7. My hair must be done daily and if it isn't, then I'm not to leave my room.
8. I want all facial hair removed on a monthly basis.
9. I don’t want to be made to wear mismatched socks.
10. Periodic body massages please, preferably administered by the opposite sex, please. Believe me even if I am demented, I will know the difference!