A Lesson Learned that You Shall, Too

So what was today supposed to consist of a nice day at home, with a small amount of time spent at a nursing home for a practicum and maybe a good workout sprinkled somewhere in there. I woke up and, while I was bored, I was safe, healthy, and content at my own place. Sure, I could be saving the world, going to work, or just hanging out, but I put priorities where they may.

I got dressed, brought the computer with me to take notes, and I was on my way to the nursing home.

When I got there, I knew my work was cut out for me. There are people there that have been there for years and people who just got there, with the feeling that maybe their family couldn’t care for them enough. It’s disheartening.

All in all, we starting with volunteering each other for the rollout putting green, and some people were giddy to do it. While I can’t recall names for the life of me, this sweet and frail older woman jumped as if she was sitting on a spring, and immediately started putting. Like I expected, she didn’t make any, but she enjoyed herself, the primary purpose of this. She was off of her feet and doing something that she wanted to do because, for lack of a better term, she wanted to do it.

Afterwards, we went to a more quaint setting, baking cookies and doing trivia, in the form of mottos. Nothing too complicated, for example, I asked, “An apple a day keeps the ______ away?” Four out of the ten or so citizens immediately got the right answer, “doctor.” It was not necessarily physically based, but regardless, it was used to keep the mind sharp.

Most, if not all, people that I was volunteering for had dementia, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, a combination of the aforementioned or something else entirely. Oftentimes I had to repeat the phrase in order for them to comprehend what I was saying. I got to know the majority of them, and while some were more open about their lives more than others, it was a valuable experience to learn about what they went through and also, how they approached their own obstacles.

That’s not the life lesson, that’s just backstory. Towards the end of my time there today, I sat down and had dinner with them, or at least talked to them while they had dinner, and realized the epiphany that changed my perspective entirely.

I saw this couple, the woman who had been at the table and a man I assumed was her husband by her side who had just arrived. She was talking nonsense and the man just listened to her, taking in the moment. She couldn’t speak, just making random noises, as if that’s al that he wanted. It’s crippling to think that this couple I’m assuming has been with each other for the longest of times, and now, at a flash of notice, she doesn’t have the slightest clue who he is or can communicate with him at all. My grandmother is in a nursing home, and heaven help me, I don’t want to do that with my mother and father. Seeing them in a nursing home would be something that I don’t think I can handle.