Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Show me the way to go home...

A few years ago I spent some time working in a nursing home.  I was a Lifestyle Co-ordinator and it was my job to try and keep the residents "lifestyles" active.  I would book entertainment etc to come to the home to entertain, organise outings, co-ordinate special days and events as well as organise craft activities, read mail, organise movies....and many other seemingly mundane things which many other people take for cuts....manicures....reading the local paper.  The job was well as confronting.  I really enjoyed being able to bring some sense of normality and routine to these wonderful people, who were all in care for many different reasons.  Our youngest member was only age at the time...struck down with a neurological disorder that made her bed ridden, nearly mute, but a beautiful person all the same.  Our eldest was in her nineties...and very much the same...bedridden, mute, still beautiful.

My favourite thing to do with these wonderful residents was reminiscent games.  We had several we would use from time to time and to listen to their memories as they grew up and the things they had experienced in their lives was a true gift.  Listening to these 60-80 year olds describe what it was like to have their first job, first car, growing up as a teenager, getting married, living through wars, having children, their beliefs and ideals...and the joys and sorrows their lives had was like going back through time and seeing life through their very different to life these days. 

For many years before this I had thought how nice it would be to make time to spend with my grandmother and nana to listen and record their memories of the highs and lows as they travelled through life.  To record their many stories, and my family history.  Sadly, this was not to be.  We always lived some distance apart which made it somewhat difficult to visit regularly, and now, they are both gone.  But often I think about this lost chance, and the residents I worked with, and how much I would have liked to record some of their stories....before it is too late.  Most young people these days would have no idea what it was like to grow up 50-60-70 years ago. But I think it is important for them to understand...the struggles that were made, the battles that were fought, so they can hopefully realise and appreciate the choices that earlier generations had to make and how those choices formed the life they now enjoy.  Older generations have so much to offer, so much wisdom, so much insight. 

It is never too late....before all the stories are make time to spend with someone from an older generation.  After all, haven't they earned it?  Haven't they earned the right for their stories to be preserved, for the daily struggles they faced, the burdens they carried, the countries they built!  All they need is a friendly face, someone willing to listen for a little while and a nudge now and again.  I know it would certainly make their day, give them something to think about, something to talk about, it may even give them something to look forward to ....apart from watching the seasons change.  If you have the privilege of having an older person in your family, take the time to sit and may be your last chance. And if you don't...there is always a nursing home nearby, all it takes is a willing ear.

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