The Heart of a Leper
Here's another outstanding message from Chris Carrillo, this one focusing on 2 Kings 7:3-9. Delivered to the folks at Care-age of Brookfield on Sunday, January 29th, it's both convicting and encouraging, depending on where we are in life and in our walk with the Lord. (Public-domain illustration courtesy http://breadsite.org via thebiblerevival.com)
What a waste!
So according to the invariably accurate Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, upwards of 2,000,000 women participated in “women’s marches” across the nation and around the world on January 21st. That’s 2,000,000 women who spent hours making arrangements, crafting clever signs, dressing for the weather, traveling to their rallying points, marching till their feet hurt, saying their fond farewells and making their ways home.
Would it be fair to say that, on average, each woman invested 10 hours of time in the effort?
Let’s say it would be, and do the math: 2,000,000 women x 10 hours each = 20,000,000 woman-hours – the equivalent of 10,000 women working full time for a year.
Far be it from me to judge their motives. I’m sure most of the marchers thought they were doing something good for women today and for generations to come – protecting “choice,” advancing the cause of equal pay for equal work and possibly comparable worth, making paid parental leave a right for partners, and supporting any number of other “women’s issues” that they believe can impact our quality of life.
There’s just one problem: This tremendous show of unity will have exactly zero impact on our legislators, who were elected to office by voters who may not share the marchers’ views.
Sadly, all this time, energy and money was largely wasted, at least in terms of accomplishing anything.
May I make a suggestion? If you are among the 2,000,000 marchers, why not consider spending your time, energy and money on something that will actually help someone in need?
Volunteer at a food bank or soup kitchen to feed the hungry. Raise money for the Rescue Mission to house the homeless. Become a Big Sister to a girl who needs extra love and guidance. Teach someone to read. Or my favorite, share your love with the neglected elderly.
Just think how much good could be accomplished if 20,000,000 women-hours were to be invested on activities such as these!
Put your friendly feline to work
Do you love cats? If so, and if you're the happy owner of a mellow, lap-loving feline, consider the benefits of taking him or her on nursing-home visits. It can be a win-win situation for everyone concerned!
Cat-loving residents get the pleasure of holding and stroking an appreciative furball -- and possibly to hear and feel the phenomenon of purring. (Purring is one of the things cats have over dogs. And it just might allow you to steer the conversation to the Creator, since secular scientists are still mystified by this uniquely feline capability.)
Your cat gets to enjoy lots of lovin' from someone who is not in any hurry to end the session.
And you get the pleasure of making some old people very happy.
If this sounds like a good idea to you, why not give the Activities Director of your nearest nursing home a call to explore the possibilities?
Warning: loneliness can be fatal
There are many premises in this life that seem to be intuitively obvious – so obvious that one wonders why anyone would feel the need to spend time and money studying them.
One such premise recently came to my attention via a University of California-San Francisco study for which researchers followed 1604 adults for six years. In the process, the researchers discovered that – brace yourself! – lonely old folks tend not to live as long as those who are not lonely.
Published online in 2012 but only recently highlighted by major outlets such as Good Housekeeping, the study reveals that the lonely elderly are not only more likely to die, but are also more likely to suffer functional decline – for instance, in mobility.
The difference in death rates among these populations was not insignificant: 23% of the “lonely” group members died over the course of the study, while only 14% of the “not lonely” did so.
As Good Housekeeping’s reporter noted, “Inviting Grandma over for dinner may actually extend her life – and increase its quality.”
Perhaps the study also suggests that those with both compassion and free time should do whatever they can to combat this problem – one of this blog’s primary themes, in fact. As it pointed out recently, “We don't have to travel farther than the nearest nursing home to help alleviate this loneliness for at least a few.”
Just as important, we may need to adjust our thinking on the subject of living arrangements for the elderly in today’s oh-so-sophisticated, youth-worshipping culture.
Good Housekeeping’s story touched on what I believe to be a profound insight in this regard: “Beyond inviting our older relatives and friends into our homes, it's important to encourage elderly relationships — which is why, despite popular belief, older folks tend to thrive in independent or assisted living environments.”
To independent and assisted-living environments, I would add “great nursing homes.” As Golden Years proposed just last week, they can be a far better solution for many than living with children and grandchildren who are too busy to care.
I recently saw a TV commercial that said, in effect, buy our service or – horror of horrors! – you might end up in a nursing home.
Now I will admit that there are some crummy facilities out there. One could no doubt create a bell curve for this subject, with a minority of homes under the leading edge of care and compassion, a minority under the trailing edge, and the vast majority landing somewhere in the middle.
But if you can find a great facility under that leading edge, chances are you’ll be much better off there than you would be living with your kids – a situation that has a bell curve of its own.
The nursing home where I hang out is one of those leading-edge places. Yes, there will always be a few discontented residents who never get past the fact that there are no family members or friends begging them to come live in their homes. But almost all get over it within a matter of months. They begin basking in the love of neighbors and staff – and thriving in activities designed to meet their needs and abilities precisely.
If you think you’d rather live with your children rather than in a great nursing home, consider:
In a great nursing home, on the other hand, you’ll be able to talk such things over, at your leisure, with people who’ve been there, done that. And you’ll also have the chance to share your memories in regular events designed specifically for that purpose. These sessions usually involve small groups of men and women with backgrounds and abilities similar to your own – no worries about not being as articulate as the next fellow. And they are run by staff members who not only appreciate your wisdom, your history and your observations, but are also vitally interested in what you have to say.
And that’s just the start.
In a great nursing home, you’ll never be in the way. There won’t be anyone trying to figure out what to do with you while he or she is off at work or out with friends. There won’t be any need to try to hide as those inevitable family dramas play themselves out. You won’t have to suffer the sting of watching your son- or daughter-in-law biting his or her tongue simply because you’re within ear-shot.
Just as important, in a great nursing home, your care won’t be delivered by amateurs who don’t know how to perform even the most basic caregiving functions; who are not trained to recognize the early signs of potentially devastating disorders from UTIs to bed sores; who won’t be there to hold your hand in the middle of the night, because they’re sound asleep. Instead, you’ll be cared for by people whose job it is – literally! – to enhance your health, comfort and happiness.
Yes, there will be some crummy and cross workers in any long-term-care facility. But they normally do not last long: It’s very hard work, and it doesn’t always pay all that well, and only those who have a real affection for the elderly tend to stay for the long haul.
So how do you identify a great nursing home?
Beyond making the obvious observations about everything from capabilities to cleanliness, I’d spend some time at each serious candidate before committing. I’d ask to observe some of the activities I might be interested in, and to talk with at least a few current residents.
I’d also ask various managers and workers about their faith – because when people who love the Lord Jesus Christ are charged with caring for your heart and your soul, you can bet that His love is going to be an ever-present comfort and joy to you as the final chapters of your life unfold.
Note that this doesn’t mean you need to find an explicitly religious facility. I suspect it might be even better to find one that is staffed by people of faith, who build their monthly calendars around events that glorify the Lord not because they have to, but because they want to.
These are among the reasons I have such a problem with advertisements like the one mentioned above – the brainchildren of copywriters and clients who think that living in a nursing home is a fate worse than death. These advertisers may well offer services that are right for some people; but I wish they’d simply highlight their credentials rather than trying to scare people away from their competition.