After Vera first entered the nursing home her daughter’s visit revolved around her mother’s physical progress. Vera had a debilitating stroke and was making very slow progress. It became apparent that Vera would always require the care provided by 24 hour caregivers. So now her daughter’s focus shifted to the quality of her weekly visits.

The daughter brought favorite food items, books to read together, and her Mom’s request – her hymn book. The nursing staff got used to hearing the mother and daughter singing together on Sunday afternoons.  As the years went by Vera was declining in so many ways. Those times together changed as Vera could no longer follow social conversations or books read to her.

But those hymns, those words sung so many times over so many years, those words remained and gave comfort. At the end of Vera’s life she was almost blind, hadn’t walked in the 14 years she spent in the nursing community, and she was confused most of the time as to where she was and what was going on around her. Yet, hearing those so familiar words gave comfort and yes gave joy.

For Vera, this Thanksgiving:

Come, ye thankful people, come – raise the song of Harvest home, – All be safely gathered in, –  Ere the winter storms begin, –  God, our maker, doth provide, – For our wants to be supplied, – Come to God’s own temple come, – Raise the song of Harvest home.

If you no longer have your Vera to read comforting words to, you can find a Vera in your neighborhood nursing home. Volunteer to read.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing




Much is in the news of late on changes in dietary guidelines. Yes, to dietary fats, no to dietary fats. Should there be a pyramid or a plate telling the public what to eat? Even if you pick up a magazine for diabetes, it turns out to be a recipe loaded guide, to cutting sugar. Why are we cutting sugar intake, and not even telling people with diabetes, how to live without sugar?

Yet, the research is out there, sugar causes inflammation. Any carbohydrate that turns into sugar when metabolized is inflammatory. Eliminating sugar and grains which turn into sugar, reduces inflammation.

Inflammation is bad for the brain, joints, digestion, mobility, you name it. Caregiving for the elderly who are no longer able to tell you they are in pain, due to  swollen joints, is exhausting. Shirley was that type of patient, she had arthritis for over forty years. Forty years of painful knees, aching legs, and decreased mobility. However, now we know, eliminating sugar could have made those past forty years much easier for Shirley.

Shirley lives in a nursing home, and dietitians in those facilities  are working with guidelines far behind recent research. And for Shirley’s family asking for sugar and carbohydrate restrictions would seem harsh indeed, for the now elderly Shirley.  These products aren’t even eliminated for the diabetics in nursing homes.

So instead of going to the source of her pain, inflammation, we go to the medicine cabinet. We medicate Shirley for those hot inflamed joints. Just as Shirley did for all of those years, trying this anti-inflammatory after another. Trying to find relief, all the while putting the very things in her mouth that were causing her distress.

There are many fine books available telling the story of inflammation. Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD is one of them. Changing the way we eat can re-write the story of aging for many. Those who are on the path to dementia, diabetes, arthritis, and early aging. It also could change life for the many already impacted in their old age, by pain.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing