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A visit to one of the nation’s nursing homes

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EDITOR: Today I pay tribute to the nation’s “men and women of wisdom.”

They have diligently served their families and their community. Now in the twilight of their years, having been blessed with longevity, they are faced with failing strength along with the many other limitations. Thus, they are thrust upon us and have become our responsibility. {{more}}

One of the options for ensuring their well being is the Nursing Home. considerable sums of money are spent by relatives who live abroad. the homes have been fully entrusted with the care of their family members.

In spite of their effort, it is sad to note that homes provide no sort of entertainment for the elderly. For the greater part of the day the residents must stimulate themselves while awaiting the arrival of the Salvation Army, church group, relative or friend. I am overwhelmed by one lady who repeatedly asks why has she been put here and left to die. She has even expressed the desire to take her own life.

One Saturday morning after making a phone call to the Institution, I visited this lady with the intention of giving her a day’s outing. However, I was unable to take her since, though nicely dressed, I could tell she had a bowel reaction. On returning at 5:30 in the afternoon, it was heart rending to know that this good lady’s problem had not been taken care of. I treated her as if she had been my mother, sister or friend.

Mealtime should not be a dull, boring occasion. There was a sad lack of cheer and the content of the meal not exactly what would excite on at this stage. They look so uncomfortable I wondered what good would be done to their digestive system. A glass of water complements the meal and prevents the resident having to make requests;thus, they remain silent so as not to cause bother. They are extremely conscious of not being trouble to anyone; sometimes they would rather do without than ask.

Another note of concern is the lack of screening of staff. It is quite obvious that staff members have not been trained to deal with these special people. Most of them are of limited educational background and have come from limited homes. Thus they lack the ability or capacity to communicate with or relate to citizens. For many it is another job. In the absence of formal training an orientation period is of utmost importance for junior staff.

It is regrettable that with the exception of the physical structure there has been little change for the last thirty years or so. It would be a good gesture to have one or two musical groups come into the homes one day a week and provide all-day music out on the patios. Hearing string band and banjo will certainly return smiles to faces and give a spring to the step. In return the bands should receive food and drink along with monetary donations. This is truly a crisis situation, but there are certainly ways by which we can bring some cheer and satisfaction into their lives of our “men and women of wisdom,” thus improving their morale and self-esteem.

May I take this opportunity to wish the staff and inmates of the nation’s nursing homes a peaceful and a blessed season.

Sonja Israel

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