In my book, Robin works in an Adult Home. Although it wasn’t the center of the action, I wanted to bring an awareness of the aging population and the needs they have. According to the Census Bureau, our population is aging. The number of elderly that are dependent on a caregiver is rising.
Several elderly widowed neighbors of mine struggle to remain independent. They are not able to stay in their homes without daily assistance.
Not all people are fortunate to have family members able to care for them. We live in a world where families don’t always live close by.
My grandmother was widowed living in the country five miles from town. With no close neighbors nearby safety and the ability to live independently became an issue. My uncles placed her in an adult home when this happened.
Distance and working full-time limited my visits. Other family members were also busy raising their own families.
Going to the home for a visit was also very disheartening. I wondered who the woman in the chair was. She was not the same person who was always active and busy. I remember the first time I visited. Grandma had lost the sparkle in her eyes. She asked my name and what I did. When I told her I was a teacher, she went on to tell me how she had a granddaughter who was a teacher. I took her hand and told her it was me. For the next few minutes her eyes lit up and I knew she recognized me. There were tears, too. But then it faded.
In the early stages of the disease I would talk to her like I normally would. I remember she always asked if I would take her home. Other patients would also ask me to take them home or would tell me a family member was coming to get them. As time passed, she stopped asking and stopped talking. Sometimes I thought I saw fear in her eyes or maybe it was the pain of not being able to communicate.
Grandma died in a home. My mom has dementia now and she hasn’t known or talked to me in six years. I miss them both.
Sometimes I wonder if more frequent visits would have kept them more mentally alert? Did they feel trapped inside their body? Or was the hope gone because day after day their loved ones didn’t come?
In As Angels Sing, I created my character in the dementia wing from my memories of my grandmother. The difference is my character had a Bible and understood it. I wish I had spent time talking to Grandma about her faith journey. I don’t know much about it except when she died I found one of her Bibles. I keep it safe because it is falling apart from use and was handed down from her mother. It is over a hundred years old. Grandma lived her faith out in her daily life by always giving so much to love others and loving unconditionally.
Or was the hope gone because day after day their loved ones didn’t come?
Visits to residents in homes are important for anyone living there. The particular illness does not matter. I used a Down syndrome child to demonstrate possibilities.
Dementia is a disease that doctors are trying to find out more about. Until then, all we can do is give them all the love and support they once gave us for as long they are here.
Till next time,