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March 09, 1990 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-03-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Please-Don't Forget Me!

them up, get residents to a meal, clean them
up, get residents to a meal, clean them up.
A nurse on the second floor passes out En-
sure, a liquid nutrition supplement, to the
residents. "Good morning, dear," she says,
handing the drink to a woman in a
wheelchair. "You're going to have a great
day!"
"I love you. Do you love me?" a resident
calls to her roommate.
"I said yes!" comes the answer.
6 a.m. They're already crowding down the
hall to the dining room. Slowly, slowly they
move, like a line of weary and wounded
soldiers.
"I'm all mixed up!" a woman on the first
floor cries. "Please help me, God."
Though they have been up all night, the
nurses are pleasant. They comb residents'
snow-white hair and kiss them on the cheek.
They have all survived another night.
7 a.m. Dr. William Solomon arrives. He
travels with an entourage that includes Dr.
Kevin Kyle, a third-year resident in internal
medicine at Sinai Hospital, and various
nurses. They study charts, discuss each case,
then move slowly into a resident's room.
A tiny, desperate woman lies in her bed.
The doctor is concerned. He taps her stomach;
it answers with solid thud, as though he is
making contact with a rock. The enemas
haven't helped. He performs a rectal exam.
The woman moans repeatedly, "Die, die, die,
die, die, die, die." Dr. Solomon recommends
she be sent to the hospital.
Dr. Solomon says "the three I's" precipitate
one's entry to the old-age home: loss of in-
tellect, incontinence or immobility.
Meanwhile, the aides assist those on the se-
cond and third floors who need help eating.
They bring spoonfuls of a soft cereal to the
residents' mouths. It is an eerie sight: the
elderly as children.
9:30 a.m. Dr. Larry Brown has been work-
ing at Borman Hall for the past five years.
A podiatrist, he is a popular visitor. Residents
wait in a long procession outside his office
door to have their toenails cut, their callouses
smoothed or their pressure sores examined.
They are encouraged not to care for their
own feet as many are visually impaired and
because of complications such as poor circula-
tion and diabetes, which can lead to serious
infections if the residents cut themselves.

28

FRIDAY, MARCH 9, 1990

The residents' toenails are thick and yellow
and long. As he cuts with his stainless steel
scissors, Dr. Brown listens patiently to their
rambling and asks questions about their
lives.
"Have you ever been to Israel?" he asks one
woman.
She frowns. "No, I'm ashamed. Anyway,
now it's time to go to Chesed Shel Emes."
"Sha!" Dr. Brown admonishes. "A bi gezunt
(So long as you're healthy)."
She looks at him. "Bless you."
10:30 a.m. Libbie Laurens hates the
bedspreads in the residents' rooms; oh, does
she hate them! That orange. She shakes her
head as if to say, "Get an interior decorator
in here. Fast."
So she brought her own bedspread. And she
has two jars of candy by her pillow and
photographs covering the wall of her private
room. Among her greatest treasures is an old
photograph of her and her groom. She was 17
when they married; they met at a dance hall.
At 86, Laurens has a keen mind and a kind
heart. She helps her dear friend Arthur Lip-
sitt, mailing out the hundreds of poems he
writes to acquaintances around the world.
She's the vice president of the residents' coun-
cil and she's not one to keep quiet when she
sees a problem. She has Parkinson's Disease,
but she refuses to live with her children; in-
surance and Social Security pay for her care
at the home.
"I could live with them today," she says.
"But I couldn't do that. It isn't fair. They have
their own lives.
"My children didn't put me here and I love
it. lb people who complain I say: don't mope.
Don't sit alone in your room. If you're in trou-
ble or mixed up, you just ask for Libbie."
Like others at Borman Hall, Laurens
misses some of the programs once extant at
the home. There were workshops and good
conversation, she says. That's when it was
really an old folks' home. Now, most residents
are older and their minds are gone.
Laurens says the best thing about Borman
Hall is that any Jew will be cared for. "If you
run out of money, they're not going to throw
you out"
11 a.m. Second floor. Somebody wants a
manicure. Another walks with a paper cup
attached to the toe of her green shoe. Two
women walk arm-in-arm from the lounge to

Dinner at Borman Hall:
Chicken salad may be the
most exciting moment of
the day.

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