When I am Old and Gray Do not Forsake Me O God -Memories

This is another of things that I wrote in the past, which I have been recently been going through. This was written in the 1980’s when my mother lived in a nursing home. It was very difficult for me during the 7 years that she did. She had been a vibrant and exuberant woman prior to having an aneurysm and consequent brain surgery, during which her health declined. She lived with different children during the years after, mostly with me and my family.

There came a time however when we could no longer care for our loving mother in our homes. This letter was written during that time. It was published in our newspaper.

“This letter is written to anyone who has a relative or friend living in a nursing home, and who hasn’t visited them recently.

My mother is in a home and each week when I visit her, it breaks my heart to see the dear people witting around the front door and in the halls waiting and watching for someone to come and visit.

In our family we usually take turns so each person goes on a different day, and not everyone together. We had trouble at first, regulating this. When too many are there at one time, the visit is not as good and Mom feels lost in he commotion.

Some time ago, when I was visiting, I noticed this sweet lady sitting on the couch at the front door, holding her head and just crying. I couldn’t forget her when I went home that day, because I know she represents a lot of others.

Nursing homes tend to make people feel unnerved and uncomfortable when you go for the first time. I know, because I was one of those people. You don’t know what to expect or what to say or do at first.

But I’ll help you. All you have to do is ‘BE THERE’.  If the person you’re visiting can talk and respond to conversation, you have it made. But in many instances, (as in my mother’s)  they can’t carry on a normal conversation. So you  just talk to them mostly and smile a lot. Even if a person can’t comprehend everything you’re saying they can understand compassion and understanding in the form of a smile and a gentle touch. Go to the lounge with them; watch television with them, read to them; brush their hair, etc.etc. Go and visit during a meal time and help them to eat if they require assistance.

And while you’re there give a few others a friendly smile or a few words. It will help brighten their day as well. The people in these homes may be old or incapacitated in some way, but they do really need to see a friendly and familiar face once in a while, to let them know they are still important to someone and loved and not forgotten.

Psalm 71 vs 18 says “Even when I am old and gray do not forsake me Oh Lord.”

God does not forsake, but sometimes we as humans do.

If this letter stirred the heart of just one person to visit someone, I will have considered it a success.”

10 thoughts on “When I am Old and Gray Do not Forsake Me O God -Memories

  1. Thank you for Rebloging this message Diane, I understand how helpless you must have felt seeing your Mother deteriorate, when my Mum was dying I felt the same.

    I have worked a lot with the Elderly, I was a volunteer in a Nursing Home in Sydney for 5 years, I organized the Craft for those who were still able to do it and I did voice control for those who had a Stroke and were finding it hard to talk. I use to sing with the others or just sit and talk to them. I loved their input in my life and missed it greatly for a long time when I came to Queensland to live.

    After moving to Queensland at first I was actively evolved in other Ministries but later I was a regular visitor to other Elderly people in a Nursing Home close by and I will be continuing to do this again soon, it is why your message Diane was so timely and helpful even if sad too.

    Christian Love Always – Anne.

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  2. Diane, this is such a heartfelt post. In 2010 my mother in law had a stroke and was in a nursing home until she passed away. I would go there and she could not talk or move and I just felt so helpless as to how to behave. I did not know what to say or do. Looking back now I wish I would have went more than I did. Nursing homes are very hard to be at for the visitor but I keep thinking if it is hard for me what about the person who has to stay there? It has to be much worse for them and they need the visitors. I hope your post inspires people to go visit!

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    • I hope so too Terri. It’s a very intimidating place for sure but if only people would go and just speak to the person with th expecation that they can actally hear them, because we can’t really ‘know’ if thet can or not. I always turned on her favourite program…and I read some poetry and the Bible to her; but you know just by being there your mother in law probably knew you were! ‘Diane’

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  3. When my grandmother was in a home many years ago,we would take our dog in. Our dog made his round while there and brought so much happiness to the residence. When I did my practicum in a nursing home, I would sing to the ones that couldn’t respond. One who didn’t respond to much would respond when I sang her old hymns.

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