Posts Tagged ‘elderly’

No, No, They Can’t Take That Away From Me

September 30, 2013

elderly-couple-kissingIn church yesterday, the minister related a touching story. When he and his brother would visit their grandmother at a nursing home, his brother, who was an accomplished pianist, would play old Gershwin tunes, which the residents greatly enjoyed.

One day, his brother was playing “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” which was introduced in the 1937 Fred Astaire film, Shall We Dance. As his brother played, the minister noticed that an elderly couple had lit up at the first few notes. It clearly was a special song to them. The woman wasn’t a resident there but would come visit her husband all day every day. He had been incapacitated by (more…)

Senior Moments

May 28, 2011

A few weeks ago, I held open the door of a McDonald’s in Cloquet, Minnesota, for an elderly man who was shuffling toward it at a glacial pace. When he realized I was holding the door for him, his face brightened and he thanked me as if I were a long-lost friend. He told me he was ninety-three, just a shade older than the 1918 Cloquet fire that laid waste to most of the city. He offered a few more kind words before heading to the counter to place his daily order. I got the impression that he didn’t get to talk to people as often as he would have liked. I found myself wondering if he had outlived most of his friends and loved ones, and if so, what a lonely existence that must be. For a brief moment, I had opened the door to his world and let a bit of sunshine in. I received something of equal value in return: a grateful smile and a genuine moment of human connection.

That encounter triggered a memory from nearly ten years ago. As a hospice volunteer, I do massage on terminally ill patients. One Sunday I (more…)

Juggling Living, Breathing Human Beings

October 1, 2010

A friend of mine sent me an update on her caregiving challenges that took my breath away, not only because of the magnitude of what she’s dealing with on a daily basis but because of the grace, beauty and wisdom contained in her final paragraph. With her permission, I am sharing her words so other caregivers can find hope and inspiration in her compassionate approach to dealing with loved ones who can no longer take care of themselves.

You may know that for seven years I’ve been caring for four elderly members of my family, in various states of illness and decline, and slowly cutting back [my workload]. Our 99-year-old died around the first of the year; a very good thing for her, as life was miserable.

My husband is now 91 and in seriously failing health, with congestive heart failure that we’ve not been able to stabilize, and advancing prostate cancer. The drs. are having a hard time finding the right balance of diuretics and beta blockers, and I’m concerned about adding two more serious drugs (that block testosterone production) for his prostate cancer.  He loses abilities from week to week, and you will understand that he is number one priority for my time.

In addition, I’m caring for my very (more…)

Retired But Not Forgotten

October 13, 2009
elderly-woman-sitting-looking-out-window-chalmers-butterfield

Photo by Chalmers Butterfield

When my friend Marie heard I was going to be visiting my mom at the health care center where she was recuperating from knee replacement surgery, she asked if I would visit Miss Neary, her fourth-grade teacher, who lived in the senior apartments in the same facility. Miss Neary, Marie told me, was her favorite teacher and was still sharp as a tack.

So when I arrived at the facility on Sunday, I made a point to stop by Miss Neary’s apartment. She was delighted to have a visitor and proudly informed me that she was ninety-six, going on ninety-seven. Marie was right, Miss Neary’s mind was indeed sharp; when I asked if she remembered Marie, she smiled and said she remembered all her students form her forty-four years of teaching. Indeed, she told me that the daughter of her neighbor, Mrs. Teske, had been best friends with Marie.

Miss Neary asked if I would give something to Marie: a (more…)

Story of a Cab Ride

September 3, 2008

This touching story is one of my favorites. It’s a reminder to challenge yourself to see the presence of God in every soul you encounter. If your purpose on this earth is to learn and practice unconditional love, then all your relationships become hallowed ground.

 
Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away. But, I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself.

So I walked to the door and knocked. “Just a minute,” answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase.

The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware. “Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

(more…)