Well. Now, my mother has fallen in the Nursing Home and broken her right wrist and her right shoulder. Wrist is in a cast. Dr. doesn’t want to do much-needed surgery on her shoulder b/c she’s 96. She’s been in excruciating pain, (you can see/feel the break!). She was in a sling for a few weeks, but they have removed it. She’s past the stage of prescribed rx meds for pain, now on only Ibuprofen. She has developed a UTI and finished meds for that. Now she constantly yells, ‘What am I supposed to do now?’ And is almost impossible for the NH staff to calm down. Dr will retest for UTI, as they say sometimes this pain can cause the agitation. Because she’s right-handed all writing, coloring, etc. activities are out. She loved to cook so I am trying to find some no-bake recipes to do with her in the nursing home. Any other suggestions for engaging activities? Or ideas as to what the yelling could mean? I know she’s aging, but I also know my momma. She stops yelling almost completely when I am with her and remains calm when we go out for drives or spend time together. And we have some meaningful, lucid conversations. She still knows me every time I am there with her. (I fly from out-of-state at least once every 4-6 wks.). I appreciate any suggestions/thoughts/ideas, etc. Thanks in advance

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5. Coping: FF provides good insight into the changes that occur when someone experiences a limiting injury. Knowing about these restrictions might help your mother realize the injury is confining and limiting, but (hopefully) temporary.

6. PT and OT: Another thing you can do is ask the physical and occupational therapists about exercises to strengthen your mother's left arm, so it doesn't atrophy until she can get PT for her right arm.

Even if she pretends she's conducting an orchestra or dancing, her left arm will be moving, and it's strengthening somewhat, so she hopefully doesn't feel she's just biding time until her right arm is stronger.

7. Crafting. Snoopy also offers some good advice, especially about the free design wrapping paper. I've used several layers of tissue paper for this kind of project. Years ago rubber stamps were popular; I used them a lot, especially on envelopes with cards I sent to family and friends. They're very easy to use; all you need are stamp pads and some lovely designs.

One of my favorites was a Victorian cottage. For winter I added Santa's sleigh and his reindeer plus snowflakes stamped liberally over the envelope. For gardening season, I added plants and lots of flowers.

8. Self discoveries. There's a unique change that happens when someone creates art. I was always calmer after playing around with my stamps.

Sometimes people can find they have more strength in the not dominant hand than they thought. My father taught himself to write with his left hand after suffering a traumatic partial amputation of his right hand fingers. He has more strength and determination than I do though; I tried that after a stroke and didn't get very far.

When I'm not very successful at something, I think of Helen Keller. I don't have that strength, but it's a reminder that humans are capable of a lot more than we thought.

8. Frustration. I'm no expert on reasons for yelling, but I'm thinking it could very well be frustration. You wrote that she's calmer during drives, so make that perhaps the first activity when you visit, to set the tone for the rest of the visit.

Or perhaps she just misses you. And she might miss the attention; people often want and need more attention when they're ill. I wonder if any of the staff, especially the CNAs, can offer some special attention, even if it's just more visits during the day.

During my search for private duty companies, I discovered groups that offer friendly visits, for free. I know the VA does have them, but I believe they're only for veterans. Dad's Senior Center has them; they might only be for Meals on Wheels clients, but I'm not sure.

But the concept is good. Perhaps some local churches might offer this. An agency that I've recently discovered had this service, working with hospitals to provide "sitting companions" for people who needed some special attention. Our local county has some level of respite program, through a private company I believe. Someone I knew said she was paid by the county. That might be an option.

I don't have any good resources to recommend, but it's something to check out.

9, Nature and traveling. If she enjoys the scenery, I'm wondering about getting a DVD player, get some travel DVDs and ask the staff if her CNA can help start the player for her. Scenery can be so relaxing.

On that subject, does she enjoy thumbing through magazines? Nat Geo, Country and Country Extra have beautiful, stunning landscape photos.
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My post became too long, so I'm breaking it up into sections.

1. Baking: No bake recipes are great, especially if they contain cinnamon, which is sometimes used for aromatherapy. Play some of her favorite music if you have a CD player - double the relaxation.

Do you think she could assist with things like stirring the ingredients? You probably would have to try something basic, then see if there are ways she can adapt to assisting with only her left hand (i.e., you hold a bowl and she uses a spatula to scrape out the batter).

That kind of activity doesn't require as much precision, which is I think the key issue with activities such as writing and coloring.

2. Coloring or painting: I wouldn't rule out coloring though.

A few years ago a variation in standard coloring techniques and design was developed. It was called Zentangles. While it can be very precise, it can also be spontaneous, VERY spontaneous. You can make it what you want, even random drawings.

Your mother would choose the colors, which would be more important than the design.

I watched a PBS program on something similar, but it was much more unstructured. The participants either had dementia or Parkinson's - I don't remember which.

They were creating lovely, unstructured, free form paintings, just allowing their hand to move freely, in sort of a modern adaptation of earlier art techniques which didn't emphasize strict design and balance. This could easily be done with the nondominant hand.

3. Dance. I've written before about a dance movement begun by ballet dancers who wanted to help people with balance issues, and bring to them the pleasures and sense of accomplishment they themselves experienced through dance.

This group of professional dancers began a movement which has spread worldwide. I can think of 2 options for your mother:

1. Research to determine if there's a group/class near you which could offer dance sessions at your mother's facility.

2. If not, you might be able to get a DVD. But do check out the website:, watch the video and you'll see how people with limitations participate, in ways that account for any movement or limb limitations. The sessions can be done sitting down, with only your mother's left arm in use.

And there's a LOT that can be done with one arm. When you watch the video, watch the arm positions.

From what I understand, the benefits are not only movement, but being with other people who have movement challenges. I just think this is such a creative and wonderful activity, for anyone!

4. Board games. What about board games, such as dominoes? She could initially make her selection; perhaps you can help place the domino by guiding her left hand. And it doesn't make a difference whether the dots match or not; it's the process and movement that count.
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Sorry your mom is going through this! Sounds like you already have some great ideas and have done some nice activities together. Other ideas in case helpful: maybe looking through home/garden magazines together, watching a video/DVD/YouTube of her favorite sort of music or musical group and singing along, gentle massage and lotion application on the "good" arm and hand, making some holiday wrapping paper with a potato stamp or maybe another low-key tactile kind of craft where precision isn't needed. I love the no-bake cooking idea, it sounds fun. Hope she feels much better soon!
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I can fully relate to what your Mom is going through.... I had a nasty fall a couple years ago where I broke my shoulder, worst pain EVER !!!! I couldn't take anything except over the counter drugs as stronger stuff would make me loopy and I didn't like that.

It was also my right dominate arm. I looked like a 2 year old trying to eat... and my hand writing was that of a 4 year old. Computer use was a challenge trying to use the Mouse with my left hand, that critter was all over the screen. Dressing was frustrating as my right arm muscles were frozen. Forget putting on make-up, or styling one's hair. Couldn't drive for 6 months because I could reach to turn on the key nor to change the gears.

I was 69 when this happened and the doctor didn't want to mince words, the healing time is going to take much longer because I was an older woman. Oh thanks. I couldn't start Rehab until the bone was completely healed. X-rays were awful to do, I was in tears.

Rehab was a bear, very painful as the doctor had to stretch the muscles on each visit, so it was 3 months of Rehab 3 times a week. Eventually I could put my socks on by myself :)

Plus I was trying to deal with 2 very elderly parents. My Rehab doctor said not to use the sling anymore, except when around my parents :) The sling was a reminder to my parents that I was limited on what I could to help them.

And yes, I was very grumpy during that time frame.

Your Mom probably won't want to do any physical type activity until she has completed Rehab.
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