To the Editor:
My story is common: We had 60 years of happy marriage, four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, and then dementia took over our life. Now, all the things that my wife loved, everything, have evaporated from her mind.
Nine months of care at home with family and friends ended with an impossible situation; we needed help 24/7 on physical, emotional and social levels. And I am a doctor.
The staff at her nursing home is a group of phenomenal women whose care and compassion are second to none. No, they cannot cure dementia, but they provide personal, medical, social and spiritual care to my loved one as well as much needed care for me. When your loved one ends up in a nursing home, care is delegated to strangers while you are left alone in your home. Especially with Covid-19 around, the caregivers are the lifeline, become part of the family.
Virtual visits with nursing home residents seem to me to be irrelevant. Love, warmth, empathy and spirituality cannot be conveyed with high tech. The elderly do not understand it. Caregivers in nursing homes and visiting nurses do God’s work in supporting us. My praise is for their care of all of our loved ones, coronavirus or not, and particularly for the care of the family of the loved ones, who are lonely and left out of a formula that worked well for them for many years.
To the Editor:
The pandemic may finally force us to take a good hard look at nursing homes across our country. We’re seeing more about how caring for someone with dementia is an extremely difficult job that is often impossible for a family member to manage. I know firsthand: I’m 86, with a husband who’s had Alzheimer’s since 2010.
The need has always existed for places that provide this specialized care. Now, as baby boomers are becoming seniors, that need is even greater. Unfortunately, our society decided at some point in the last few decades that being old is to be avoided.
We are obsessed with staying young and looking younger than our parents did at our age. Unwittingly, we’re sending our children the same message. Is it any wonder we don’t pay much attention to the places where many old people go to live out the last years of their lives?
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