Despite a crowd, loneliness is there.
Bob was waiting in the car while I went to visit a lovely lady in one of the local old age homes. Even though it was bitterly cold, I couldn't budge him out of the car.
" I'm sorry, but it just depresses me. "In a way he was the clever one. Yes, most old age homes seem to be parking spots for many. It sounds harsh, I know, but the snapshot I got was of a whole lot of elderly people sitting at various tables and as it was close to lunch time, they were subjected to huge white bibs around their necks with food not even in sight. Yikes, whatever happened to dignity?
The lady I visited was just motoring along the hallway with her stroller, and when she saw me, her eyes lit up and she quickly made us dash into a sort of glassed in lounge. We exchanged pleasantries, news, gossip and the oddness of life in an old age home. Quite correctly, she equated it with being back in Kindergarten.
Perhaps carers and nurses become shop blind, as the residents ( ie, their paying customers ) get addressed with words that make it seem as if they don't have a thought left in their heads. These residents are the generation who've endured hardship, raised families, toiled and never complained. Seems kind of awful to aggregate them into grown babies.
I read an article a while ago wherein a doctor in charge of an old age home, observed a most amazing change in the residents, once dogs, cats and birds where given a place in it. Oh and, real plants (! ) in each resident's room replace the plastic ones. Rather a simple idea.Can life in a nursing home be made uplifting and purposeful?
Loneliness, depression and inertia seem to be the main culprits, often greater than the actual illnesses. Imagine, merely getting up each day and not having any responsibility nor chore to do? Well, he noticed that the residents suddenly woke up from their inertia. Eyes started to sparkle and liveliness returned. Medication needed was reduced by 38 % and death rate by 15%....makes one wonder, doesn't it?
Anyway, the hardest thing is to change routine and culture of these institutions, but at least we can all make an effort and go and visit once in a while. There is usually someone without family and extremely grateful to get a visit.