Is there life after nursing home?

Is there life after nursing home?

We can make that life, if we have the gumption. We can get out all the books and articles about helping children learn to read and to become independent, and see what makes sense. We can go into the head of our father or mother and see that they want us to slow down to their speed when we are around them. We are making it bad for them if we are demanding they hold the newspaper right side up, put the playing cards in order in our hand, talk about what they want to talk about. Can’t I just be me? Will you just hold my hand, sing to me the way I remember? Even if I do not remember what you remember?

We can get beyond expecting. We can share pictures of children. We can bring animals to hold and to listen to purr and to pray with and sit in silence with. We can ask for stories. We can pretend we are their mother whom they have not seen for many years. We can provide routines. We can sing songs together. We can show pictures of children—we all love children, don’t we, love to hear what they’re up to, what they tried last week?

We can try to get beyond our own sense of loss and be with them with what they still have.

We can share anyone’s pictures because they trigger our memories. We can share the music Mom and Dad grew up with. We can share our pictures and songs with the people in the next room, at the next table.

We can be in community. Now. Not 15 years ago, even though we’d love Mom or Dad to be in that place 15 years ago. Where they are is a problem only for us, in our heads: they do not see themselves in a problem—unless we press it on them.

We can keep a gratitude journal and see what Mom or Dad are thankful for.

We can remember that quiet is a safe place from people telling us we are doing it wrong. A sanctuary from the turmoil our children and our caregivers set upon our days. A place away from confrontation. A place they can trust.

We can remember that communication slows down—it might take a long time to process a good response to “Good morning,” and we need to be present and hear it even when we’d usually miss it. We need to be trustworthy and safe. We need to hear.

We need to hear voices and whispers and body language and silence. We also need to hear what our voices and whispers and body language and silences are saying.

Can we? Yes. Will we?

:- Doug.

Published in: Conversations | on October 13th, 2009 | No Comments »

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