Life Is What Happens

Recently, a regular McDermott Footcare client told me that he’s moving to a retirement residence.  This is a surprise to me since he’s told me before that he doesn’t want to leave his house.

A retirement residence is for seniors who are mostly independent but may need minimal help to perform daily activities such as taking their medication and bathing.  Residents have their own suites but share some common areas such as the dining room.  It differs greatly from a nursing home or long-term care facility where people need greater assistance or complete care.

My client, Mr. X, is fiercely independent, generous and witty.  He lives alone, has trouble going up and down the stairs, difficulty bathing and cleaning his house.  He often forgets to eat and take his medications.  His closest relatives live out-of-town but they do the best they can to help him.  They worry about him all the time.

When I visit him for foot care, I ask him if he’s taken his pills that morning.  The usual answer is “no, I forgot.” I hand him his pills and remind him that since he’s diabetic, he can’t wash down his meds with the sugar-laden pop he likes to keep around.  I also remind him to eat.

So, why am I telling you this?  Well, it struck me how quickly my client’s life is changing.  Despite his earlier insistence that he can continue to function in his own home,  in one month his outlook is completely different.

Although we all experience many changes in our lives, I think the most significant shifts take place in old age.  The onset of illness, loss of independence and loss of loved ones take a hard toll on seniors.

I marvel at how my client is handling the impending move.  He’s given me a lesson in accepting life’s inevitable changes.   Instead of wasting time and energy fighting what he can’t control, he’s meeting his challenges head-on with a pragmatic, no-nonsense attitude.

That doesn’t mean he won’t struggle when he gets into his new place.  There will be major adjustments to make.  On top of all the other losses he’s experienced over the past few years, he’ll have to deal with the loss of the home he’s known for many years and the life he had in that home.  It won’t be easy but I believe he’ll be OK.

I wish him all the best.  May you continue to accept life as it comes with grace and dignity, Mr. X.

Foot Care and the Sandwich Generation

“Mom has an ingrown toenail.  Can you come and see her?” 

“My uncle has diabetes.  Do you do foot care on diabetics?”

McDermott Footcare is often contacted by people in Toronto and the GTA who would like a foot care nurse to come and care for a relative’s feet –  mom, dad, uncle, aunt, grandparent – someone they love.  The people who call  McDermott Footcare are busy juggling kids, jobs, lives, but they are also extremely committed to providing the best care for at least one elderly relative.  This is the sandwich generation – responsible for their own immediate family on the one hand and elderly relatives on the other. 

 The internet is full of articles and resources on this phenomenon.  Just Google “sandwich generation Toronto” and you’ll get too many sites for me to link on this blog. 

I am a member of the Sandwich Generation.  My balancing act consists of 8 kids ranging from grade school to a university graduate on one side of the scale and my mom, who is almost as much work, on the other side.  Before dad passed away from complications of Parkinson’s Disease, he was on the scale too.   I still haven’t managed to find the right balance and I know I’m not alone.

People who contact me on behalf of a relative share the common trait of being  dedicated to improving  mom’s and dad’s comfort and well-being.  One daughter schedules her mother’s  foot care appointments over her lunch hour so she can come home from work when I visit her mom.   A son whose father has recently been admitted to a long- term care facility insists that McDermott Footcare be allowed to continue caring  for his dad even though the facility  has their own foot care nurse.   Someone schedules visits for aunt, mom and dad to be seen all at the same time – that’s organized!  Others make sure that visits are regularly booked.   Of course, I look after my mom’s feet.

It’s not easy.   Some days we can’t tell right from left.  Unexpected events can be challenging.    But lovingly giving back to the people who gave so much for us makes everything worthwhile.

 

Tea, Cookies and Potpourri

On Thursday, Dec. 8, I spent a wonderful afternoon making Christmas potpourri and having tea and cookies with a lovely and lively group of seniors.  We were at a community resource centre.   McDermott Footcare had been invited to come and see what they’re all about.

Amidst tea served in porcelain cups, hot mulled cider and an abundance of Christmas cookies, we crafted our individual potpourri.  The resource room smelled of Christmas – cloves, ginger, cinnamon.  Kimberley Davies, Community Relations Manager of Amica at Bayview, guided us through our craft projects.

Some of the seniors reminisced about Christmases past, childhood winter adventures and a simpler time.   For me, that was the best part of the afternoon – getting to know the guests and listening to their stories. 

Thank you to the staff of the community resource centre for your hospitality.  Most of all, thank you to Jack, John, Lorna and the other guests who shared part of your lives with me over afternoon tea, cookies and potpourri.  What a great reminder that foot care is not just about feet 🙂

About Nursing Foot Care

 In the world of foot care options, nursing foot care is a trusted, professional, convenient choice for discerning healthcare consumers.   Among the various alternatives available, only Registered Nurses possess considerable nursing knowledge and expertise  in order to provide timely,  holistic care which considers the well-being of the entire person.

As a Registered Nurse specializing in foot care, I hold a Certificate in Advanced Nursing Foot Care from an accredited educational institution.  As well, I update my skills and knowledge through continuing education for Foot Care Nurses.  The College of Nurses of Ontario, the Canadian Nurses Association and the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario regulate my practice as a Certified Foot Care Nurse and require that I adhere to Standards of Practice that apply to Registered Nurses,  Certified Foot Care Nurses and Registered Nurses in independent practice.

As a Certified Foot Care Nurse, I believe in the importance of quality foot care as an integral aspect of my clients’ health.  I recognize that my clients may face certain challenges that make it difficult for them to care for their own feet.  Changes in vision, flexibility, hand strength, coordination and mental acuity may make personal foot care onerous. 

 Conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, vascular disease and other degenerative conditions affect the health of the feet.  These conditions will often cause pain, nerve damage, skin problems, as well as circulation deficits.  All of these affect the health  and appearance of the feet as well as a person’s ability to use them.  I am able to address, in a non-invasive way, problems which  may develop.  I typically address concerns regarding thickened and fungal nails, corns, callouses, bunions, nerve and circulation deficits, athlete’s foot and other matters.

As a Registered Nurse, I strive to prevent further foot problems for my clients and to address current issues.  To that end, part of my care consists of providing  clear and simple health teaching which allows my clients or their families to better care for their feet between nursing visits.  If needed, I can also make referrals to other healthcare providers.

Clients who regularly receive nursing foot care express an increased sense of comfort and well-being.  The health and appearance of the feet are restored so that the client may once again participate in social activities and activities of daily living because their feet no longer cause discomfort,  pain and embarassment.  The client or their family is empowered and satisified.