When we grow old, we often become dependent on others because we can no longer walk, talk, see, hear, or think clearly. A nursing home is not like a prison. There are no bars on the windows, no armed guards, but a nursing home is still an institution where everything is regimented. When you’re used to being in your own home where you can do the things you want when you want and eat food cooked to your specific liking, moving to such a facility can be a difficult adjustment, no matter how hard the staff tries to make residents feel at home. It sometimes feels like a prison sentence.
The following poem is from my collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. It talks about being sentenced to a life of dependence simply for growing old.
I sit on a bench outside the nursing home,
an ordinary red brick building with many windows.
Oaks and cottonwoods grace the lawn.
The fragrance of roses and newly mown grass permeate the air.
Birds sing. Cars whoosh by.
Through an open window,
an old woman talks to herself, laughs.
I think of others imprisoned by age,
unable to stand, walk, talk, see, hear, think,
sentenced to a life of dependence for growing old.