Updated: Feb 14, 2019
The other day I was visiting someone at an area nursing home. As we sat waiting for the music to start playing, I looked around the room at the other residents gathered there, and one in particular caught my eye. She was sitting on a couch by herself with no expression on her face. As she sat, I could see that she was looking around while waiting for the activities to get started.
It was about 10 minutes into the music playing when I noticed her eyes connect with someone she knew very well, that had just walked into the facility. I don’t know what the relationship was between her and the person she locked eyes with, but I had a feeling it was maybe a son and daughter-in-law. The smile that came over her face was one that turned her whole disposition around. The couple quickly said hi, then continued past as they brought something to her room. When they came back, it was evident that the resident was excited to see them and she was eager to talk. But they took only a few minutes before they said goodbye and turned to leave. My heart broke for this woman who had just put on the biggest smile a few minutes earlier, and was now sitting by herself again, alone and without a smile.
I’m in no position to judge the couple that came to visit. I don’t know anything about them, the circumstances of the visit, or their relationship with this resident. What I do know is the look of sadness that spread across this person’s face as she realized they were leaving almost as quickly as they had arrived. It truly made me think about the time that we take to spend with loved ones, and how much that time can mean to our elderly loved ones, especially.
Even if your loved one is nonverbal or they have a hard time understanding you, it can be so special to spend quality time together. I know life gets busy, and it can be difficult to go out of your way to visit someone, but make a point to ensure that some of your visits are more than just 10 quick minutes with them. Hold their hand, smile, talk, and maybe enjoy a cup of coffee with them. The small slice out of your busy day may be the highlight of their entire week, especially if they don't get those special visits very often.
My challenge to you is to make your next visit a little longer than normal. Don't worry about what you're going to do or what you'll talk about, just be there and be truly present. I know they will appreciate it, and I think you will too.
If you are looking to add someone to your loved one’s care team, give me a call or send me an email. I'd love to sit down with you to talk about the support I can provide for your family.