My grandmother stays at a private nursing home, and every Saturday, my wife and I would visit her.
My grandmother is severely demented (due to age), and because she is unable to swallow, a permanent tube is placed through her nostril to feed her with milk.
You can, of course, imagine the discomfort of having such a tube inside you, but generally, my grandmother is at peace with herself, isn’t irritable, and she does smile every once in a while (although due to what, I wouldn’t be able to tell you).
Perhaps she is non-irritable due to her dementia (and thus, is not cognizant of her discomfort). However, I do think it is due to her personality — she has been always been a happy, easy-going person.
In contrast, there is another old lady who stays in the same ward as my grandmother (and sleeps nearby), who is also intubated, but who never looks happy or at peace, and there was once when she moaned so incessantly (for unknown reasons) that my wife took pity on her, and went over her bed to try to comfort her.
There is another elderly lady in the same ward as my grandmother who looks generally healthy and in sound mind, and who is able to sit up and feed herself, and to go to the bathroom on her own.
Due to her mobility and general good health, it is, of course, surprising why she should be staying in a nursing home, and not in her own home instead. However, it’s never a comfortable question to ask, because the real reason could range from her children no longer being able to get along with her, or perhaps, her children are just too busy with their own lives to watch over her (and due to age, she is not able to live independently).
Whenever my wife and I visit my grandmother, I notice that the this elderly lady would sit upright on her bed, and her gaze would be fixed on us. Reading her facial expression, I do wonder if this elderly lady might be thinking how nice it would be if her family members could visit her.
The nursing home that my grandmother stays at has a visitor record book, and I can see that everyday, there are only a handful of visitors.
If I added up all the number of visitors per week, and divided it by the number of residents, I don’t think I would get a number greater than one (in other words, each resident gets fewer than one visitor per week).
The residents who stay at my grandmother’s private nursing home do not come from poor families. The monthly fee to stay at that home is more than the cost of hiring a maid and is also more than the average salary in Singapore. (The only reason my family is able to afford it is because my uncle had died early, just before his retirement. Hence, my grandmother’s stay at the nursing home, is being funded by this late uncle’s retirement money). Indeed, I reckon that a number of these residents are financially pretty well-off.
Some people live their lives like they could sacrifice anything for the sake of becoming wealthy.
However, the bible says, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, NIV)
There are really some things in life — like good health and peace — that are more important than money, and I hope no one has to find that out the hard way, when they are aged.