When I was little, my mom “sponsored” an elderly person, meaning that Josh (my brother) and I would write letters, draw pictures, and bake cookies for our particular nursing home resident. On occasion, we would go and visit her. I hated every minute of it.
Yesterday was my last day working at the nursing home, and my, it was tough saying goodbye to those residents. When I first started working at the nursing home, I thought I would be panicked and uncomfortable with patients with Alzheimer’s and other progressive diseases. I thought that dread that I felt when I was little would return and that I would be depressed and bummed each day assisting people with end of life issues. My goodness was I was sorely mistaken. While some of my favorite residents did in fact pass while I was there (including the gentleman who referred to be as M.F.S.O.B), working at the nursing home was anything BUT depressing. I have never laughed as hard as I have working at this particular nursing home due to the priceless things the residents did and my boss’s fantastic bedside manner. I have grown to love the stories the residents have shared with me about their involvement in Pearl Harbor or the retired organic farmer telling me to put egg shells or coffee grounds on my plants with weak stems. I learned a wonderful lesson in compassion and respect and have cherished the simple things, such as telling an 80 year old woman that her hair looks fantastic after a fresh perm., or combing the sweetest man’s hair down after a rough night of sleep. The residents of the nursing home grab hold of your heart and don’t let you do anything less but love them.
I am embarrassed to admit that prior to working at the nursing home, I was ageist. I am so glad I’ve had the opportunity to turn that around. Now, I can wholeheartedly say that I will always volunteer, work PRN, or sponsor a resident in a nursing home. What an incredibly valuable experience this has been. I am definitely a better person for working at this facility.
Lucky for me, I now have about 5 honorary grandparents who have committed to being my pen pal! I can’t imagine anything sweeter.