Thoughts from the Heart

“Being Safe” Thoughts from My Mom’s Nursing Home

“Be Safe”…it is the resounding salutation of these times. It sounds so caring, so altruistic, so right. After all, who does not want to be safe? Who does not want their loved ones to be safe? No one that I know. I personally am absolutely neurotic, for example, at bedtime, about checking each door and window to make sure we slumber in a blissful state of being safe. But even so, there’s no guarantee that we sleep in perfect safety in spite of all my efforts to make it so. But I continue to do what I can, and that is good.

Of course, our country…our world…is presently concerned with keeping people safe from the virus Covid 19. And there is reason to take some safety measures, just like there is reason for me to check my doors and windows. It’s a smart thing to do…to a point.

But from my perspective, we’ve crossed the line of reason. And in crossing that line, safety has been endangered. Why? Because people are not one dimensional. We are more than a body; we are in fact made in the image of God, meaning we have a soul, a spirit, and mind, an invisible part that is every bit as real as the physical part.

There are many things I could share: the rising incidence of suicide since the lockdowns, the fact that currently filings for divorce in our nation is up 32% since the same time last year, the chilling realization that children cannot play or go to school in a normal, healthy way…even though children are not, for the most part, affected by this virus. But the thing that I want most to share, and that has been most disturbing to my soul, is what I see at my mom’s nursing home.

Let me hasten to say that my mom’s nursing home is outstanding in care, in cleanliness, in communication with families. It is a very fine institution, and I have always been grateful for it. And it is not their fault, that they have to follow guidelines and restrictions (although the extent of the restriction is up to them). And we all are asked to understand that these are troubled and dangerous times. After all, most Covid deaths are attributed to the elderly, and more specifically, the elderly who have other conditions that contribute to the possibility of death.

But I feel compelled to share what is actually going on with these elderly people. Until these past months, these dear older people have enjoyed their lives. They have participated in daily activities, fun activities! Daily exercise. They enjoyed eating meals together. They had the option to attend church services. Family and friends could visit them. My husband and I brought our goats to the home last year and how the residents enjoyed being with the animals!!

But now their lives are very different. For a while family could visit with masks and at a 6 foot distance. For someone like my mom, who has advanced Alzheimer’s, and whose hearing and sight are compromised, the only way of relating to her has been through touch and very close eye contact, so these restrictions virtually put an end to her having interaction with loved ones. But now, even this distance visiting has been denied. No visitors at all. No activities. The residents eat in their rooms, alone. They cannot go out in the hallway to see other people. Last week my mom was sick in bed, and no one, including family could visit her. And I feel most sorry for those residents who are still lucid, able to relate normally. They understand their loneliness. For a while, family could have “window visits” but even that has been denied. These aged and vulnerable people are literally experiencing a life of solitary confinement.

One other interesting fact is that even though a good number of the senior residents have contracted the virus, most, by far, have recovered. And the few who did not survive were said to have other underlying conditions that would have contributed to their death. So it’s not like Covid 19 is certain death for the elderly.

I ask you. Is this the “being safe” that you want when you are old?

In light of every human being possessing a body, soul, spirit, and mind, is there not more to life than being safe?

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