Working for Hospice, I have learned a lot about life. I watch my elderly people struggle to do the most basic things; eating, standing, moving, eventually it all becomes difficult. I have realized that the smallest things should not be taken for granted. Also, what you put out into this world is what you get out of it. I see as they struggle to lift the fork to their mouth, and as their face changes when a tired, over worked nursing assistant starts to feed them. The disappointment that their bodies have failed and betrayed them. The soul searing pain of seeing someone who can no longer take themselves to the bathroom, and seeing them have to ask for help, as they lose their dignity. The pain in their eyes when their families don’t show up that day is heart wrenching. As confusion sets in and they revert back to the most basic of stages, yet family members constantly upset them with the simplest phrases, “Come on, you know who I am! Say my name! You can do it!”; a well meaning but horrifying cheerleader. I see spouses sit beside their husband/wives of 60 years, with tears in their eyes as they lift a spoon to their mouths. Children now changing parents briefs and bathing them.
I have also learned from all of this that unfortunately, this is the circle of life. I had a patient once tell me, “Once a lady, twiced a baby”, and she was right. Its sad, and unfair. To watch these strong people who worked their entire lives end up in a nursing home that sucks all of their finances dry, with dried food on their faces, it is awful. But, I have also learned that the smallest things make a difference. Walk by and hold someones hand. Change a dirty shirt. Scratch a back. Give a smile, and say good morning. Wipe their face for crying out loud. Every little bit helps to make their day better, and sometimes even the most combative person just needs a little attention. Every single person that works at a nursing home, or home care agency, or for hospice makes a difference in their lives everyday.