The little elderly woman down the hall is crying again, something she does every day. I think to myself, I don’t really have time for her today. I’ve most likely heard the same old sad stories I know she wants to tell. I’ve heard them so often I could recite them back to her. But I know she desperately wants someone to spend some time with her, and she thinks crying will get her some sympathy, get someone to notice, which it most often does. She always slips in, “I know you are busy and I shouldn’t keep you but . . .”
So here goes. I walk toward this resident but immediately notice that today something is different. She doesn’t have that little smile in her eyes she usually gets when she knows someone is going to spend some time with her. Nope, today is different.
“Hi Jane,” I say. “How can I make your day a little brighter?”
“You can’t,” she says.
She looks so sad. I finally get her to talk and find out that her childhood friend—someone she had taken care of in her older years—passed away yesterday. She is devastated and feels she has no one to talk to and no one wants to talk to her.
So I stay a little bit longer to reassure her that not everyone has left her. I think she is comforted by this, but I know that at any time I could get called away to help someone. Or I could just get caught talking instead of working.
Untimely as it is, the call comes thru: “We need help in 1256.”
She looks at me and says, “See, you’re leaving me too.”
And I think, yes. Yes, I am.
Life in a nursing home is so lonely for residents, especially those without families. We caregivers are the only people some of them have.
by ~ Colleen Wigmore, a healthcare aid, CLAC steward, and Local 303 board member.
* Please volunteer to visit our lonely and forgotten elderly.
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