Our senior relatives and friends are important and for them, we are the world. Living in a nursing home is hard and it gets lonely at times, no matter how nice the staff is. It’s true you can make new friends but your family and old buddies are still more important than anything when you realize you’re, *ahem*, getting old.
First of all, what is a nursing home? Well, in barbaric terms you can say it’s that place old people go to live in. In more appropriate terms, it’s a place of residence for people who need constant help with daily activities, due to illness or deficiencies. You see, not only seniors live in a nursing home but younger folks as well, usually those who have physical or mental disabilities and need round the clock care.
Living in a nursing home is difficult. You might think it’s hard to adapt to change, hard to make new friends when you grow old, hard to accept the idea that you need help. Unfortunately, that’s only the part we see, from the outside. Seniors who have to adapt to living in a nursing home have to see illness and pain every day. They have to watch confused newcomers occupy the bed where that sweet old senior, who they barely got to know, used to sleep.
Visiting someone in a nursing home is the best gesture one can do. It’s time consuming and hard on you too, but the joy the elderly feel when someone comes to visit is priceless.
However, you can’t just drop by and say “hi” whenever you feel like it. Nursing homes have a schedule too, just like any other living facility. For example, the residents eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at exact hours. The nursing home’s cook won’t stick around because your great-grandma missed her 12 o’clock lunch. One of the things you have to take into consideration is planning your visits. Call the facility first, make sure they know you are coming and maybe, instead of making your loved one skip an important activity, you can be there to make it more fun for them and not feel like a third wheel.
Another important tip is to always keep your promise. Most likely the staff will inform your loved one on your next visit. It’s important not to let them down, if you say you’ll be there, don’t keep them waiting. At least call to cancel the visit if you can’t make it; disappointing the elderly is worse than disappointing a child. A child will at least forget, a senior will most likely think you don’t care about them.
When visiting a loved one, try not to come empty handed. It’s true that your presence is the greatest gift of all but some family photos, a newspaper to read about current events or some flowers will surely put an even wider smile on your loved one’s face. It’s also a great conversation started and can give them a chance to forget about the everyday boring stuff.
Last, but not least, one final advice. Listen to them. Whether they are telling you something you have already heard hundreds of times or whether they are just complaining because the cook burned the bread this morning, let them speak. If you can be sure of one thing, it’s this: when you are visiting them, it makes them feel like children unpacking Christmas gifts. They are excited that someone cares and is willing to spare the time to listen to them. Usually older people have a lot to say 😉
Our seniors are important. They took the time to raise us and sacrificed a lot more than 2-3 hours a week to spend with us when we grew up. It’s up to us now to give something in return and time is what they need the most, especially as they grow older.