Imagine being isolated and feeling a great sense of abandonment from loved ones. Imagine the despair and helplessness we’d feel. While this is simply a visualization, it’s also the reality for many of our elderly during this pandemic in nursing homes. The same is true for US Veterans in VA Hospitals.
Mrs. Rona has made many VA Hospitals and nursing homes close their doors to visitors. These visitors are the life line for many of those in long term care. It’s often the highlight of their days and whispers felicity into their souls. With everything being shut down, their joy is being shut down.
An extreme example of what can happen during these times comes from Hellen P. Here’s what happened in her own words: “My mother was in a facility in another state…with the close-down, she didn’t understand why we couldn’t visit her or drop off things (especially her favorite foods). Mom didn’t recognize the personnel in all the protective gear (they changed their policy to identify themselves every time they entered a room). Mom did what we used to call, “Turned her face to the wall”. She passed away on Mother’s Day from Failure to Thrive. She felt abandoned.”
This is just one story of the pain that this pandemic has caused our elder population. The great news is we can help!
We are the Solution
With the Holidays upon us, we have a huge opportunity to be a gift to those who may feel forgotten. The best part is this gift doesn’t cost much and benefits our well-being!
We are all invited to contact local nursing homes, VA hospitals, and other long term care facilities to see if they have any one in their care who could use a holiday card. Those of us who can afford to take it further are encouraged to ask about “adopting” a patient and providing them with holiday gifts.
These random acts of kindness can lift the spirits of those who may feel forgotten (especially during this time). At the end of the day, we will benefit from the small gesture as well. According to researchers at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire “engaging in acts of kindness produces endorphins, the brain’s natural painkiller! Perpetually kind people have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and age slower than the average population.” Performing kind acts also:
- Gives us energy
- Increases our own happiness
- Releases oxytocin which lowers our blood pressure
- Helps to reduce anxiety
The Choice is Ours
Let us not forget the truth in the words spoken by Robert Ingersoll; “we rise by lifting others.” Now that we know an extreme example of how this pandemic is hurting members of our own communities and how easy it is to help, it’s up to us to decide if we are willing to be the gift this holiday season. The choice is ours!
By Mona Nyree Stephens, contributing author
Support Love for Our Elders
Unified Caring Association (UCA) sponsors projects to provide care for the elderly as a part of the C.A.R.E. Program by UCA. Love for Our Elders is a nonprofit sponsored by UCA to provide a vehicle for receiving and delivering love letters to seniors in care facilities. It’s so simple to write a letter or record a brief video message to be delivered to our elders in their greatest hours of need. The choice is ours to take action!
We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others. Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.