The joys of children
I watched with interest my young grand-daughter this weekend as we visited my mother in a continuing care facility. She is 3 now - and a very active and confident 3 year old at that. She has been coming with me every time she comes to stay with me which is about once a month.
What I have noticed is two things. One the way the other residents faces light up when she comes to the hospital and two the way she is so comfortable in the environment.
Now I know that not all old people like children and they should not have to endure them if they are bothersome to them but there is something about the young that inspires a smile or at the very least, is something else to look at.
Maybe it is sparks a memory of how life used to be for them or when they had children. How they too, were once an active little child like her but life has had many twists and turns. Maybe they long for a visit from their grand-children or maybe they have now grown up and don’t visit that much anymore.
What ever the reason, I have yet to see one person who does not turn their head to look at her. She brings in new life, a sparkle so zest.
My grand-daughter is a very active confident little girl as I said earlier. She just does not know how to walk. She has to run everywhere. I managed to get her to walk about 4 metres yesterday but then it got too hard so she was off again.
Neither is she a quiet, meek and mild little girl. She is loud and laughs a lot. But she is bright and has a real sparkle about her.
None of this seems to worry the staff and residents, for which I am really grateful. They are now commenting on how much she has grown and taking a real interest in her. They are seeing her grow and change.
But for me there is another aspect that is so important.
Many children do not get exposed to life in such a raw state – and I am afraid a continuing care facility is part of life for some people. Some children do not even have grand-parents or the opportunity to visit such a facility.
Often families want to protect their children or grand-children saying it is not appropriate for them to go to such places.
I think it is very appropriate. I think they get to see an aspect of life that exists and learn that life isn’t always a wonderful exciting game. Life takes many forms.
My children were brought up around older or disabled people as I have worked in this area for 36 years now. They have a very healthy attitude to people who require care. For them it is not a novelty, it is real life.
They know how to be with people who do not have full mobility or mental capacity. They know to just be with them without any expectations. They know this is part of life they haven’t been shielded by.
Making a residential facility as close to normal life as possible is not easy but we must not forget that this is where some people live 24/7. This is their home 365 days of the year.
Many do not have the luxury of being able to see the outside world so we have to bring the outside world to them. This is not just in the form of entertainment.
My mother has visits from two girls from the local high school. It is a highlight of her week. She reminisces about the past and they are getting a glimpse of what life used to be for her. She also gets call from her grand-children who live overseas which she loves.
These little things are as important for those in care. It brings life to them but more importantly it helps others have a wider understanding of how life is for some people.
While we might say we don’t want to be in this situation, sometimes these things are out of our control. This is why it is so important for the young to experience life in all forms. This is why we must train people well with skills in to care and understand those in long term care.
Yes I am grateful that my grand-daughter is able to have this experience. That she can see a part of life that many are shielded from. That she can still be herself in a continuing care facility. She is very lucky.
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