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Friday, 20 November 2015

Getting mum's fingernails cut, finally

Early last week when I went up to the nursing home I noticed that mum's fingernails were getting quite long. So I walked down to the nursing station and asked someone there if they could make sure someone went to mum's room and cut her nails. It's a major task to ask an elderly person to do because they don't usually have the strength in their hands or the manual dexterity to use either nail clippers or nail scissors properly. For the record, mum also has someone who comes regularly to look after her feet. Getting down the the feet with the necessary tools is clearly well past the ability of an elderly person, so that is a task that is delegated to a specialised person who comes to the nursing home from time to time for this narrow purpose.

Looking after fingernails however is something that can be done by one of the nursing staff who works in the nursing home full-time. Later last week when I came back to see mum I noticed that she still had not had her fingernails cut, so I mentioned it to one of the staff at the front desk on her floor. They assured me it would get done.

But when I came back to see mum again today after not having seen her since Tuesday - when we had to go to a doctor's appointment, and did not have time to think about finger nails - I found that her nails were longer than ever. The assistant manager of the nursing home stopped me in the ground-floor vestibule as I was entering the building and told me that when staff went to see mum to do her fingernails, she had told them not to do them too short.

I went back to mum's room and asked her if she remembered telling the staff not to cut her fingernails too short and she said, "No," meaning she didn't remember. I decided then and there to expedite things and so went back looking for the assistant manager, who I found again. "Let's do them now while I'm here, and if she complains about cutting them too short she can complain to me," I said to her. "Right, let's do it," she said. She took me back to the nurse's station and found a staffer with some free time, whom she instructed to go with me to do mum's fingernails.

We trooped back down the hall determined to do the deed, but when we got to mum's room the nurse could not find mum's wetpack with her instruments in it. She finally found it in another drawer in the bathroom and then got mum to sit in her easy-chair by the window. The staffer then proceeded to cut mum's fingernails, while all the time mum intently watched what she was doing, with a slightly pained look on her face, to make sure she did them without hurting her.

We got the fingernails clipped to a suitable length this afternoon. After the nurse had left the room, I asked mum how they looked and if they were now the right length. "Yes," she said, "That's good." I will keep an eye on them, and make sure I'm present next time we have to clip them back.

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