We visited my husband’s grandfather at his assisted living home yesterday, and we left there saddened by our experience. You see, Pa-Paw has dementia, a disease that slowly eats away at his memory. Our hearts were aching as he asked us again and again where we live, where he was, and how long it would take to get to our house. Every time we visit, he is intent on leaving his “jail” (as he calls it). One thing remains steady – his anger towards my mother-in-law (his daughter) who arranged for him to live there in the first place. While she didn’t want to place him in a home, she (and all of the family) knew it was the best situation for him. Still, that is one memory he won’t forget any time soon.
The only joy he seemed to have while we were there was found in the smile of our seven-month-old daughter. All anger and bitterness seemed to melt away as he reached for her, trying every trick he knew to receive the sweet reward of a smile from his precious great-granddaughter. Even though he can’t remember her name, he loves her deeply and prays for her often.
I’m sure by now he has forgotten that we even came to see him yesterday. But for just a few minutes, we were able to brighten his day just by bringing Hannah by for a visit.
Whether or not you actually know someone in a nursing home or assisted living place, consider taking your children to one for a visit with the residents. These are people who hardly ever receive visitors (including family) and who are missing the freedom they once had as healthy adults. They once had a life and family like you, and they are probably especially reminded of that during the holidays.
Let’s think of others during this holiday season! You may be surprised at the joy you find!