Aging

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.

Aging

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.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome
and
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver
http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com
abbie@samobile.net

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6 thoughts on “Aging

  1. Nursing homes are much like blind schools. We couldn't make a living and had no freedom to be with our parents each night, except for those fortunate day students. Our days and evenings were regimented and supervised. The facilities looked impressive from the outside but what good are flowers and shrubs when your imprisoned? Even if some students required extra supervision, we were deprived of our families for much of the year. I also notice a depressing similarity of nursing homes and Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind's dorms. Rugs are few and the buildings are made of brick or concrete. My mom's in a home now. Maybe she'll realize what she sent me to when I was 7 years old.

  2. From Abbie Taylor:Hi Bruce, you made some good points about the similarities and differences between nursing homes and schools for the blind. I never lived in the dormitory at the Arizona school because I was fortunate to be able to go home at night, but I visited friends there after school while waiting for my mother to pick me up. Rugs were few and far between, and even the couches and chairs in the TV lounge were plastic. In the rooms, you couldn't sit on the beds. However, the nursing home where I worked for fifteen years and where Bill went for therapy after his strokes isn't bad. Although the rooms aren't carpeted, some halls and lounge areas are. Some lounges even have recliners and nothing plastic. Since I quit working there several years ago so I could write full time, the facility has improved. All the rooms have at least one telephone. At mealtimes, residents can sit where they want and those with few dietary restrictions have at least two choices of entrees. But even with such amenities, it's not at all like being in your own home.

  3. HI., I AM DEON LYONS MOTHER. HE LIKES TO SHARE YOUR STORIES WITH MY HUSBAND KEN AND I. WE LOOK FORWARD TO READING ABOUT YOUR ADVENTURES TOO. WE HOPE YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND HAVE A WONDERFUL HOLIDAY SEASON. KEN AND CAROL LYONS

  4. From Abbie TaylorHi Ken and Carol, thank you for your holiday wishes. I'm glad you're enjoying my blog. Please check back often. I try to post at least twice a week. I hope you have a joyous holiday season as well.

  5. I've worked in several nursing homes as a Social Worker. It's difficult to see people's lives change to where they need that kind of care.I tried hard to meet their needs and understand that this could be me someday–how would I want to be treated? Like a person.Blessings to you for being a person who cares for our elderly.

  6. Hi Terri, as you may have figured out from reading this blog, I'm no longer working at the nursing home. I quit several years earlier so I could write full time. I had been working there as an activities assistant, and although I enjoyed working with the residents, I'd started writing on the side, and when I got married, I decided to make that a career.Three months after we were married, my husband suffered a stroke, and I was back at the nursing home, this time as a family member. Now, I'm a family caregiver and a writer, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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