James and I visited our friend Albert yesterday and took him out for lunch. He suffers from Alzheimer’s but was doing quite good on Wednesday, and so we had a nice time together.
While we waited for staff to assist Albert with getting ready to leave we met a woman who had recently become a resident at the facility. She quietly called to us from her wheelchair as we passed in the hallway.
Upon entering her room I could see she was small and frail looking, She held a picture in her hand. On the small table in front of her was a small photo album. She was the stereotypical grandmother type. There was no way not to gravitate towards her.
She introduced herself as Nicki, and let us know that her family was coming to visit. I sure hoped so, but to be honest I suspect they were not. I could be wrong, as she was a new resident and perhaps her family was more attentive than that of others that reside there. I am more than cynical when it comes to these places, and those who never visit their loved ones. I just have seen too much over the years since we started on this journey with Albert.
Nicki told us several times how lonely she was, and how it made her hurt inside. She spoke of repeatedly asking staff for a small can of soda, and wondered why it had not come. I left to seek out one in the kitchen refrigerator. “They told me I could have Coke here,” she told us, and then suggested I bring two cans so she could keep one in reserve. In these places I have come to discover it is always the small things that seem to matter the most.
When it was time to leave James asked if it would be OK if he gave her a hug. She welcomed the idea with a nice smile. James leaned down and hugged her around the shoulders.
In the hallway outside of her hearing I stated again my feelings to James about these types of facilities.
I hate them.
Once back home I called a couple local churches near to the place she lives and asked for help. As much as I want to save all the residents of this place I can’t. I will try to get a volunteer to start visiting Nicki, and try to reduce her lonliness. From just the few minutes of interaction with her I know it would make a world of difference.
For those readers to this blog who have made it this far I have a request to make.
Reach out wherever you live to an older person and make a difference with a couple fresh-cut tulips in the weeks to come as spring blooms appear. Or stop by to see an elderly person with some cookies…I bet there are plenty of bakers who read CP.
But really you need take nothing more than yourself. Chat and smile with an older person today.