Every time I visit a residence of the third age, conflicting emotions invade me. On the one hand, I feel an immense joy for the existence of these fantastic centers that take care of our elders. They receive all kinds of care and the work of all professionals is admirable. On the other hand, I feel very sad. The practices of the race were made in a residence for the elderly and the workers told me that there were some seniors who did not receive a visit for months.
Every so often I go to visit my uncle at the residence. It is very well maintained, clean and fed. He is not very old, but he is unable to take care of himself. He has no partner or children. The best decision that could be taken was to enter it there. He is fine, happy. He gained several kilos. They say he has good behavior. I like to go visit him and invite him to a coffee. He rejoices and greets me with a: “what’s up champion!” Although most of the time he confuses me with my brother.
The residence of the elderly and the sad corridor
When I go to look for my uncle in his room, I have to go through half the building. I take the elevator, I arrive to his plant and from there to his room there is a corridor where several elderly people are always seated in wheelchairs. You can not almost move. When I pass by you, I greet you all with a broad smile. Some look at me and smile, others look at me and do not change the gesture and others directly do not notice my presence. Whenever I go, I see the same people sitting there, alone.
Some are always quiet and crestfallen and I wonder what will happen to their heads. How their lives will have been. Above all I wonder if they ever imagined ending up tied to an immobile wheelchair with a lost look; consumed by life, by loneliness, by illness or by everything at once.
I remember that in practice I met an older man who was always in a room with another woman who just laughed and shouted. It was a man, in principle, quite violent. He had an Alzheimer’s so advanced that he could hardly speak.
One day I decided to interact with him. I sat next to him and began to dig into his life. He almost always expressed himself in monosyllables. I got him to tell me his birth town, which I happened to know. After that, little by little, I started to get more words out. Even one day, despite having a serious grin, he smiled at me.
They’re just looking for love
One day of practice, walking down the hall, I heard him scream. I went to the room where I was and I found two assistants trying to get up to wash it; however, he did not stop shaking.
I entered the room, saw me and dropped into the chair completely relaxed. I had found the key. I had the answer right in front of me. Behind that expressionless look, with almost dry crystalline eyes and with the cognitive capacities severely affected, there was a person who only wanted to receive affection.
In fact, the issue of receiving love and company is so important for these people that Gea Sijpkes, director of the Humanitas residence in the Netherlands, put a project in motion. In 2012, he decided to give free accommodation to students in the residence in exchange for spending at least 30 hours a month with his residents.
“You can not avoid the pain and disabilities that come with age, but you can improve the quality of life of people.”
-Gea Sijpkes, director of the Humanitas residence-
Behind there is a soul wanting to connect
Both in the residence of the third age in which I did the practices and in which my uncle is, I have been able to observe that he plans the shadow of loneliness in many of our elders. The professionals of these centers have a lot of work and can not offer the necessary support. However, I am saddened by those elderly people who receive few or no visits. Behind each of them there is a soul wanting to connect with another person. Loneliness consumes them little by little.
This society teaches us that what is worthy of being taken care of is that which is functional, that from which we can derive some benefit. It grieves me to see that in many families when they believe that their elders no longer “contribute anything”, they enter them in a residence of the third age and leave them there, visiting them from time to time. Our elders have had a life, they have had a story, they have offered part of their lives for us and we abandoned them.
There is no doubt that residences are a great alternative in many cases and that, thanks to them, many of our elders enjoy exquisite care. This article only aims to highlight the loneliness and abandonment to which many of our elders are subject. As if they were a burden, they are prostrate to oblivion in this type of centers.
The residence of the elderly and their great work
Many families, due to work, economic or time circumstances, can not be responsible for the correct care of their elders when they are no longer self-sufficient. So in these cases choose to enter them in the residence. However, whenever they can, they visit them, hug them, kiss them.
Despite being in a residence for the elderly, the feeling of abandonment does not exist. The residence becomes their new home in which they coexist with other elders and their relatives visit them frequently.
We must not forget the great work carried out by all these centers, but we must not forget our relatives who are in them. Years ago they gave their lives for us and we are what we are thanks to their work, their effort, their education.