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.”