January 27, 2012

Caring For Elderly

There are thousands of old people in convalescent and assisted living centers all over America that never have anyone to visit them. For most of these people, their family members put them in and never went back.

During the holidays churches and organizations bring them gifts, sing to them and take a few moments to listen to incoherent stories but the rest of the year they are forgotten by most of us.

It’s not easy to see elderly people in bad health. Some of us find it depressing and don’t want to be reminded of our mortality but like it or not we may all be in that predicament one day and we’ll hope that someone will take the time to stop by and talk for a few moments. Their memories are a bit fuzzy and some tend to repeat themselves but it's a nice gesture to listen even if it is the same fox hole story over and over again.

It doesn’t take that much time to drop by and the staff don’t care if you are related or not, most are happy for you to visit for a while.

One of my best friends is an angel who visits on a regular basis. She starts by going to see friends from church or family members but she soon becomes attached to their neighbors noticing no one comes to see them and her heart goes out to them. She makes me look really bad.

Her latest friend is an elderly fellow who has lost his ability to control his saliva as well as other bodily functions. He wears a large bib they call clothes protectors. This fellow also likes to go to church on Saturday, he’s Seven Day Adventist, and like many people from his generation he believes in being properly attired in a suit and tie. Problem is by the end of service his necktie and suit are quite soiled.

He’s in a wheel chair and pushes himself down the sidewalk without fail to the church down the road.

My friend who is in no way related to this man nor did she know him before her mother became a resident at this home has taken it upon herself to adopt him. She’s made him several stylish “clothes protectors” including one that looks like a man’s suit complete with a tie. He was tickled to death to get it grinning from ear to ear and now can go to church wearing a washable outfit.

Debbie’s mom passed away several months a go but she still visits this man on a regular basis as well as other people who have nobody. Recently two of her friends disappeared and she had to ask questions as to their whereabouts. These places have a big turn over so she had to search to find a staff member who had been there more than a couple of weeks. It’s hard to find people willing to clean up after the elderly.

One died in her sleep and the other was moved to Texas to be near relatives who hopefully will visit her. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t but at least they no longer have distance as an excuse.


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