The Nursing Home

My Dad is in hospice at a nursing home and each week I spend time with him.  The first couple of times I went there it seemed really depressing.  It is.  Yet, I have come to appreciate the people who are gifted in working with elderly people in the last days, weeks and months of their life.  In addition to being a physically demanding job, the emotional toll may even be higher.  I am thankful that there are people who are willing to make this job their calling, and who do it with compassion, respect and diligence.

I have also experienced some significant belly laughs at the nursing home.  Amidst this environment that I described, things happen and words are spoken that fiction writers would never be able to create in their minds.  In order to protect the innocent, I am not going to get into specifics, but if you spend more than 8 hours in a nursing home, you will know what I mean.

Yesterday I experienced once of the most profound physical acts of compassion and understanding I have ever seen and it was between two residents.  My Dad has always been very social and extroverted.  He likes to be around people and see what is going on.  On my visit yesterday, he was having a tough day and it was difficult to get him awake enough to even know I was there.  So, I decided to get him around more people and started wheeling him all over the nursing home.  After a few minutes of this, we came across two nursing assistants trying to feed a resident who is in a very similar stage of health as my Dad.  My Dad has known this resident for years and now neither one of them can even verbalize a greeting.  As we were wheeling past, my Dad and this resident both simultaneously reached out their hands for each other and held each other for several seconds.  I think they both realized they are in about the same condition in this life and wanted to provide some comfort to each other (I spend most of my time in the nursing home holding my Dad’s hand as I know it provides comfort to him).

Amidst a place that few people aspire to spend much (or any) time, there can be great joy, compassion and understanding.  One of my favorite verses is Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.”


A Boomer (now 3 years )In Transition

2 thoughts on “The Nursing Home

  1. Having been one of those workers as a nursing assistant decades ago trying with frustration to feed people with Alzheimer’s, this one really hits home. Read this post through tears; the heartbreaking depth of connection between your dad and his buddy puts a lump in my throat. Thank you Dean for allowing us to capture a brief snapshot into your world and to experience and appreciate the surprising and yet tender reality of Alzheimer’s.

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