Safety or Freedom

When my dad was with me at my nursing home, I had to decide if his safety was more important than freedom. I had the power to make decisions for my dad. He had ALS. He moved into the nursing home I was operating because he had fallen on my woodstove at my house and had burned himself. I decided that his safety was more important than him being at risk of burning himself at my home.

Do I wish I would have just used the propane heater and kept him with me? I have never really given that any thought until now. I made the decision that he had to go to the nursing home. He agreed and I, for the first time, sat on the other side of my desk and signed my dad up for nursing home care. It was much different on the other side of my desk. Feelings I had never felt before washed over me as I faced what many families had been facing. I felt what they felt. I don’t know exactly what my dad felt. I haven’t gotten into his shoes. I can do my best to understand. But, I cannot understand fully until I am there moving into a nursing home as to what it will be like.

We don’t know what our loved one is feeling at this moment in time. Even if you work in a nursing home or assisted living. You do not know what it must be like to be living there. Even when you drive by that nursing home on your way to work or church, you don’t know what it is like living there. Only a senior who never gets to leave knows what it feels like to be living there. Right under our noses is such pain and suffering we will never understand.

In 2019, less than 2 years ago, a senior in a nursing home could go grocery shopping with their family and come back to the nursing home and put their goodies in their cupboard. Then, go to the dining room and have a delicious meal served on a table with a tablecloth. After dinner, she could go watch a movie and have popcorn with her friends.

The next day she could have all of her friends over to play Bridge or Pinochle. She could have her hair done in the beauty shop to look her best since all of her girlfriends were coming over. After the Bridge game, she could have her best friend up to her apartment to take a look at the new quilt she was sewing while they made plans with her daughter for the baby shower she was going to for her granddaughter’s new baby. The quilt was for the baby.

In 2019 Grandpa would go to the coffee shop with his friends. Some days, when he didn’t feel good, he would have one of the guys come get him and they would ride together. They would all crowd around a small table and play a silly game of who was going to get stuck paying for the coffee for everyone. They would laugh and joke-telling stories and finding out the latest news in their town.

Today, there is no such thing as leaving the nursing home for anything. There is no such thing as even leaving the room. There is no baby shower. There is no Bridge group who meet together and play. There is no seeing the granddaughter let alone seeing the new baby. There is no laughing with friends. There is no tablecloth on the table. There is no conversation with the guys let alone kiddin’ with them and talking of times gone by or even finding out what’s happening today. The only thing there is, is vulnerability - stuck - without hope.

Hope springs eternal and I speak hope. However, for them, there is no hope. Only more lockdowns and promises if only you’ll take one more shot everything will be ok and, of course….dying alone. Their only hope is freedom.

God Help us. God Bless the nursing homes and God Bless The United States Of America!