“Thank you so much for what you do for me. If it weren’t for you I would not be able to be here!” Night after night Grandmother tells me this. Sometimes she even has tears in her eyes. Then she reminisces about all the times she has visited or been in nursing homes or retirement homes over her 92 years, and how lost some of these people are.
When we decided to shine a light on our elders in Western North Carolina for this December issue, we wanted to motivate anyone who has family or a long ago friend in a nursing home or long term care facility to remember them at this time of year. Sometimes this is the saddest time of year for many people. People who have no one or has lost loved one can become unhinged at Christmas time.
In working with Grandmother, I have realized these elders have physical needs but even more they have emotional needs. The most prized gift you can give them is to listen as they talk about how it used to be. Time spent listening, touching, and hugging is the ultimate. Even when their mind is not completely there anymore the need is still there. It so reminds me of a story about an old man in the hospital. He was dying and he wanted to see his son one more time. The hospital personnel tell the story of a young marine coming to see him one night and he realized he was dying. He sat with him all night long and in the early morning he died. The nurses were talking to the young man and thanking him for caring enough for his dad to stay by his bedside all night. The young man looked at them with tears in his eyes and told them this man was not his father, but he was someone’s father. What if we all had that kind of compassion and made time for these wonderful people in their waning years.
Listen to this wisdom from the Bible:
Proverbs 23:22 – “Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old.”
Psalm 71:9 – “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails.”
Deuteronomy 32:7 – “Remember the days of old, Consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you, Your elders, and they will tell you.”
Isaiah 46:4: “And I will still be carrying you when you are old. Your hair will turn gray, and I will still carry you. I made you, and I will carry you to safety.”