Miss Me?

changeMiss me? I have been in the hospital three times with pneumonia since 9/18 and then I was in skilled nursing for over two weeks. I’m back home now!

As I’ve aged, I’ve tried to be responsible and consider the needs of my loved ones as well as myself. I’ve done the right things. I have an end of life directive, a will, a power of attorney, and I even left a list of ideas for my memorial service.

I’ve also tried to rely on the words of my doctors and my daughter and not just insist that it’s my way or the highway. I really want to be a rational senior.

All my life I’ve heard about difficult elders and I was determined not to be one. But after my recent time in the nursing home, I saw that my tolerance of unpleasant conditions is definitely very limited.

I’ve always thought of myself as adaptable but I didn’t do too well on my nursing home stay. I hated it and I certainly let myself slip into reacting to conditions rather than being an independent actor. I only give myself a grade of C minus when it comes to managing my reactions to those nursing home conditions.

As one’s powers diminish, life gets more frustrating. Bottle caps resist turning. Names hide in closeted parts of the memory. Technology sprints into new worlds leaving the senior user far behind.

As one’s powers diminish, it is tempting to become more demanding and more childish. We sometimes make foolish choices. If you don’t believe me, read King Lear. For example, a father of one of my friend’s called her at 3 AM and insisted she drive over an hour, in the rain, to his nursing home; because he needed someone to fix the remote on his TV.

I don’t do things like that but I worry about it.

That said – I really hated the skilled nursing facility I was in and I’m afraid I wasn’t very grown up about it. Instead of practicing gratitude, I complained a great deal.

I’m still not finished complaining… My room was disorganized and no one ever put anything back in the same place twice. The nurses were pleasant although they were harried and often confused. They took 20 to 30 minutes to respond to my call. The food was terrible and I didn’t agree with the doctor’s treatment methods. Except for that – I hated the lack of mobility.

This nursing home had good ratings and I’m assured it is better than most. If this is one of the better ones, I don’t even want to think about the others. My two weeks there were extremely irritating. The staff made several mistakes that I caught and that was scary.

Part of my irritation came from being treated as though I were senile, I hate it when people say, “It’s time for our dinner” – worse yet, “our shower.” It is my dinner although you are welcome to it. It wasn’t anyone’s shower because they announced it by saying, “You missed your shower time”.

Sometimes it seemed to me it might be easier if I were senile but I can’t imagine that is a safe choice.

I’d be the first to admit I’m not well suited to being locked up and cared for. I was born to be free. I inherited the blood of the Wild West. My mother once helped her sister pull the plugs and escape a very big city hospital. They just yanked out the IV tubes and went home.

While incarcerated, I contemplated a similar action. I wheeled myself out to the front doors a few times and stared at my options but I couldn’t drive and it was a long way home. I stayed the course and endured the travail while the ghosts of my mother and aunt haunted and taunted me.

I came three days ago, and immediately called my dear friend and mentor, Rev. Marvis Rodrigues. She is a safe for me to complain to because she doesn’t judge and she has her own experiences. In fact, her life story is a testimony to courage and endurance, She was born with a severe anomaly and has suffered many hospitalizations because of a birth defect she never talks or complains about. She is a courageous friend and helps me keep things in perspective.

Rev. Marvis had a successful ministry despite being physically challenged and she is now retired. She told me a delightful story about visiting a friend who was in a nursing home and was just as frustrated as I was. Together, with the approval of the activity director of the nursing home, they devised a wonderful activity to relieve stress and express creativity.

Marvis and her wheelchair bound friend created a drumming circle for the rest of the residents who wanted to participate. Most of them were also using wheelchairs. She, and several church volunteers, donated drums and percussion instruments and the circle met weekly. Everyone got to express themselves while making music based on the rhythm of the heartbeat. What could be more healing? More basic? More fun?

The drumming circle allowed everyone, including the mentally and mobility challenged residents, to express their feelings. According to Rev. Marvis, “The process of pounding on a drum or shaking a rattle or tambourine allowed the residents to release pent up anger and frustration. Plus, they all ended up with a smile on their face. It became a favorite activity the residents looked forward to”

The activity director shared with Rev. Marvis that after a drumming session, the residents returned to their rooms happier, more relaxed, and they took very sound afternoon naps.

Rev. Marvis’s story sounded like a great idea and I decided it might be an activity I could use to clear up some of my negative feelings about the whole experience.

I have been disappointed at my reaction to the frustrations of the nursing skills center. Up until now, I haven’t had any way to release my emotions and move on. Now, I have decided to pursue creating drumming circles. I will begin by talking to some of the people in my Center for Spiritual Living about creating a drumming circle for a nursing home in our area.

If any of you readers are looking for an outreach project for yourself or your church, you might consider setting up a drumming circle in a neighborhood nursing home yourselves.

I think it will be a fairly simple project. Instruments are easy to find in toy shops. Or you can get creative and use metal or wooden spoons, and pots and pans. Very often the activity director of the nursing home will utilize the idea into a drum making activity with their residents using coffee cans. Your friends and church people will probably be happy to help supply the instruments.

Residents enjoy the music concerts provided in the afternoons more than any other activity I’ve seen in nursing homes. Drumming is a very primal form of music making and it seems as if it would be an easy activity to set up.

I want to release the negative aspects of my nursing home experience and move on in my own consciousness. I know that there is always a new choice and a new opportunity and I can release my frustration. I also know I am not alone; a drumming circle could be wonderful for others as well.

Let me know if the idea appeals to you. If you follow through in your own neighborhood, please keep me informed.

Ask Yourself

How do I release stress?

Does this idea appeal to me?

How might I follow through?




36 Comments on “Miss Me?”

  1. Sally Carroll says:

    Dearest Dr. Jane,
    I am grateful for your recovery and enjoyed your commentary…having been in mental hospitals since I was 20 I can appreciate your frustrations of confinement and I am so glad you are home… I participate in a drumming circle in Carlsbad on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month from 3 to 5… I would be happy to seek our interested parties to your idea about carrying out inception of a drumming circle in a facility for recovering seniors… Count me in as a volunteer… I am happy to be of service to your cause.
    Love you, Sally

    • janeclaypool says:

      Hi Sally,
      Thank you so much for your prompt support. I really appreciate your willingness to serve in so many ways. You are another true inspiration for me. Let’s talk soon.

  2. julie hadaszy says:

    Hi Jane, It is great to read your words of wisdom. My father was at nursing home, many years ago and we had a very similar reaction. I wish you peace, love, and health! We miss you! Your kindness, will never be forgotten. Sending Love and Hugs, Julie and Tommy 🙂

    • janeclaypool says:

      Hi Julie, It is wonderful to hear from you and to feel so connected to you and Tommy after all these years. I am so glad you are having a great life. You deserve the best! Love,

  3. June Claypool says:

    What a fantastic idea! Drumming circles are so powerful and so healing and so very easy to do. What an inspiring vision for nursing homes across the country. I missed you and am so glad you are back home and free! Lots of love, June

  4. GinaOgden says:

    To my favorite difficult elder—welcome home!

    I leave for 3 days teaching at Rowe—off the grid.

    I’ll be back in touch as soon as I get home.

    Love you,


    Gina Ogden, PhD, LMFT

    Sex Therapy Supervisor




    Expanding the Practice of Sex Therapy

    The Return of Desire

    The Heart & Soul of Sex

    Women Who Love Sex

  5. janeclaypool says:

    Always good to her from you; Love, Jane

  6. russsedat says:

    Rev Jane,

    Much love to you! If you need a drum circle please let me know.



  7. Rev Jane,

    Much love to you. If you need a Drum Circle let me know. We’ll set it up.


  8. mruark1 says:

    As my teenage daughter would say “Dr Jane that is so Metal!” Which equates to totally creatively wild and awesome! You rock!

  9. joseph didonato says:

    Jane, i love reading your blog. I love how even through adversity you are taking a drum class to deal with emotions. Now thats a true student of new thought. I met you years ago in a religious science class and through Valerie Seyffert. I remember in one of your postings you mentioned her apartment and you brought back such vivid memories. I am happy to hear you are doing a little better now. Peace and love Joe

  10. Very thought provoking. I once escaped a hospital before 2 major surgeries to watch a local city TV interview I just did in Santa Monica. Worked in a locked facility with Alzheimer and stroke victims. It was dreadful…how these people are treated, were treated, in the early 80’s. One lady replaced me after I quit, as Activities and Soc. Services Director. I was upset they were always drugged up, ruined my activities…and I made sure they had sweaters to go outside, on outings… Rounded up volunteers. In charge of 42 patients, their charts and had a budget of $42 per month. I complained to the proper Ombusman authorities. Cock roaches in their closets, aids taking their belongings. The woman who replaced me did something wonderful I did not have the patience to do. She also was disgusted, so she purchased a home, a real home that housed just a few patients, with a yard, garden, so that they would feel at home in their dying years and chronic illness. Study other countries. Our country separates the elderly from the rest of society. Denmark supposedly better. Perhaps this is why I was the youngest President of the 501(c)(3) regional chapters of Gray Panthers in So.CA. The main thing is to become an advocate and change things for the better. As Maggie Kuhn said, “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes!” Also, she said, “The best age is the age you are.” I only have the head of my pancreas and 100 % of spleen missing…. but despite 20 doctors arguing over whether I was living or dying in 1997… I’m still here. God bless you.

  11. Lynn Guilfoyle says:

    What an inspiration you are! This is a perfect example of turning a “negative situation” into an opportunity for growth . And you have taken it one step further – your experience is now an instrument of change! You never stop teaching us all. Love and hugs.

  12. jacquelinechohan says:

    Hi Jane,

    I totally relate to your experience. I’m having physical challenges that can be frustrating and upsetting. This is where I need to rely on SOM training, my partner and family.

    I know you are perfectly healthy and take excellent care of yourself. And have fun in the process!

    Love, Jacqueline

    • janeclaypool says:

      Hi Jacqueline,
      It is always a pleasure to hear from you and I am sorry you’ve had some physical challenges. You are such a perfectly healthy person as a rule, I am certain you’ll soon be back on track. If you ever want a friend to talk to, feel free to call me. If you’ve forgotten where you put my phone number email me and I’ll send it to you. Email is WiseJaneC@aol.com.

  13. Karen Kushner says:

    Dearest Jane,

    I will complain right along with you about the service I have seen extended in today’s nursing homes. I believe that those who stay in them and those who have loved ones in them need to speak up and refuse to accept such disrespectful treatment. I don’t agree that you needed to be more adaptable. Intolerable treatment is not to be tolerated.

    But, I see that lack of respect all over for anyone over a ‘certain age’. Senility and failing faculties is assumed and projected onto ‘us’.

    I used to do a weekly ‘service’ in a nursing home until I couldn’t bear watching how the residents were treated. Perhaps I am overreacting because I am nearing a ‘certain age’, BUT…

    Did you ever see the British sitcom about the aging in a nursing facility, called “Waiting for God”? I loved that cranky female resident.

    In any event, I am glad you are home. Enough of that nonsense!

    Much love,

    • janeclaypool says:

      Hi Karen,
      I think of you as a much younger person – almost a teenager and I was tickled to discover your agreement. You have such an enthusiastic and loving attitude toward life and people. You make me wonder if we took on outreach to nursing homes as a group project if we could be very effective. I think our attitude-based religion is very powerful. Let’s think about it.

  14. Barbara Potter says:

    Good morning, Jane,
    I’m so happy you have returned home. Nursing homes are not fun; I’ve watched too many relatives go through the same thing.
    I love your idea of a drumming circle. Where I work in Laguna Woods, some residents have a drumming circle that meets once a week. You have given me the idea of putting one together where my mom lives, at an assisting living community/facility. I will talk with the owners this next week and get one going.
    Jane, you always make me think and smile. Gosh, I love you. Having you in my life fills me with continuous gratitude.
    Be well, my friend.

    • janeclaypool says:

      I feel very, very happy to hear you are ready to take up the idea and start another drumming circle. I believe we might be “trendsetters”. See you a week from tomorrow when I’m planning to return to Wise Women and then we will inspire each other again,

  15. Ellen Sheive says:

    OMG, Dr. Jane. How I LOVE this blog of yours!!! It is awesome – real – useful – inspiring!!! You have confirmed so many experiences and reactions – then – actions I have taken in my own life! Thank for sharing this meaningful personal experience all the way to your personal “conclusion”!! I am inspired for my future and confirmed in my present. Sooo – can I suppose that this “experience” you had was “purposeful – on – behalf – of – All? of us?? Love to you, Ellen Sheive

  16. Dear Jane,

    I continue to be inspired by your wisdom-filled messages, although I was terribly intimidated by your presence during my first year on the RSI board!

    Your experience in the skilled nursing setting is too often experienced, especially within our “senior” population. As I have witnessed frequently with my hospice patients, the loss of independence and choices causes frustration, anger, depression and rebellion. And that’s just as a result of the health condition that results in hospital and facility stays. Add to that the structured environment that is faced by too many patients in too little space with lots of regulations and not enough trained staff… well, the situation is ripe for the infection of which you wrote. In many cases, the solution is to assign each patient a number on a schedule in order to administratively control what ‘has to happen’ rather than what could happen.

    The drum circle, or other free-form activities, provides an opportunity to restore some control and choice-making in the lives of those “inmates.” Usual activities within this setting are often as regulated as the rest of the environment due to the number of participants with only one or two facilitators to guide an activity within the time frames provided. Drumming circles, however, offer an option to simply be present and feel the rythm, to participate with every beat, to make your own rythm, or pair up with someone across the room. Choices! Options! a restored right not experienced in, perhaps, many years.

    Thank you for challening us (me) to participate in a greater way to ensure that choices – whether through drumming circles or book selections – remain on life’s menu for as long as possible.

    Blessings for continued health revealing itself in you!


  17. Maxine Kaye says:

    Dearest Jane, I always love how you “tell it like it was,” then find creative ways to spin some gold out of that straw, and always with the intention of bringing greater life to everyone. I am so grateful you are in your own peaceful home now with people who adore you. I am one of them, loving and appreciating you from the “wrong coast.”

    • janeclaypool says:

      Hello, My dear friend,
      Thanks for acknowledging my ability to spin straw into gold. It’s always a pleasure to be “seen.” Yes – I do have wonderful God-given powers of recovery and I am deeply grateful. On the other hand, I’d love to be like you with your magnificent power of seeing everything as perfect in a a perfect world.

  18. Jenne says:

    Jane, I haven’t had the opportunity to “miss you,” since I have only just met you 🙂

    I am Jenne, and Marvis is dear to me. I landed here through her FB page. She referred to you as her mentor and “the most amazing woman” she knows, and given how amazing I think Marvis is, I knew I just had to come read your post.

    What a timely entry this is for me. (Don’t you just love the way that works?) My husband and I are of an age where we are “dealing with” elderly parents, and I’ll admit, whose complaints aren’t always that easy to hear. Your blog gives a very well articulated account of an experience that we may have to face, and we are glad for your perspective. It may help us hear our loved ones better. Thank you.

    We also have strong musical connections within our community and senior drumming circles sound like a great idea! Our community has a very active senior population (as we live in a retirement destination), so it makes me wonder why we don’t have them already?

    • janeclaypool says:

      Hi Jenne,
      Any friend of Marvis’s is a friend of mine. Glad to meet you! I am very glad that you found my blog article helpful. One difference between me and many in nursing homes is that, while my body is getting pretty beat up, my mind is fine. I can remember and understand just about everything except what I had for dinner last night.
      My advice to those in charge of their beloveds in similar situations is that they make it a point to complain early with specifics. I would also advise that you make yourself seen as much as you can on site. Drop in at unexpected hours. It is human nature to sharpen the act a bit when we know someone else is watching.
      Please understand that everyone was pleasant and there was no abuse in the usual meaning of the word. It was just what we used to call “benign neglect”. I also hope you will listen to your parents as well as their caregivers. Don’t assume your loved one is reacting emotionally. Pay attention to both sides of the story. I know this is tough for you and my heart goes out to you and every other loving child who faces these tough decisions.

      • I am heartbroken that my dear friend Jane has left this plane of existence. I just reread her article, “Miss Me?” because I do miss her greatly. And to my surprise I notice a comment from a special person in my life who found the blog helpful and enlightening to her. And reading Jane’s response to Jenne gave me a sense of deep trust in the Intelligent workings of the Universe. And to remember that all things do happen in perfect right action for all. A sad farewell dear, dear Jane; I will always “Miss You” but you are always with me. Love, Marvis

  19. I’m confused….did Jane pass?

    • Diane Hennessy says:

      Sadly, yes, on Oct. 3st. I’ve been reading her ‘Miss You’ blog too…and am so blessed to have spent time with her at Wise Women retreats.

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