We regularly visit someone who’s in an extended care residence. Although some might think of it as a depressing place, it actually offers some light and funny moments.
The nurses are saints. Anyone who wants to care for our loved ones in ways we ourselves are not able or willing to do, is a saint in my books.
As you make regular visits you get to know some of the other residents, if not by name then by behaviour. There’s the golfer. He’s a very tall, older man who has golf trophies and photos in his little shadow box outside of his room. He laughs almost non-stop. He looks at you and laughs. He walks away, he laughs. We have exchanged a few pleasantries and he seems quite lucid. He just laughs a lot.
There’s the woman who sometimes rolls down the hall in her wheelchair and gets lost. So she looks into the room you’re in, thinking it’s her room, and wondering why you’re in it. She doesn’t say a word! She just sits outside the door and stares until a nurse comes along and shepherds her to her rightful place.
But our favourite is the When’s Lunch lady. It can be 9 am, two minutes after lunchtime or any other time of day and she will ask, “any sign of lunch yet?” It could be sad if you let it so we don’t. She’s apparently not able to remember that she has just eaten or is just about to eat. She looks positively puzzled about why lunch is so late, each and every time. As soon as we see her we know what’s coming. When you talk to someone like the When’s Lunch lady there is no sense in pointing out the obvious. So you smile and say, “should be soon” or, “you’ve got a bit of a wait” or whatever seems appropriate.
We don’t see everybody on every visit. Last time we only got a belly laugh from the golfer and the lost lady and When’s Lunch lady were nowhere to be seen. It’s a mostly calm and somewhat happy place. They have a bird. There are lots of activities and outings. And with so many people needing varying levels of assistance, that’s no mean feat. Everybody just wants a little love and understanding. And perhaps some reassurance if they’re looking forward to meal time.