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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Sep 17, 2009

Do you have a relative, even a remote one, who lives in a long-term care facility?

If so, have you visited him or her lately?

An increasing percentage of our population resides in long-term care. Whether it’s assisted living, a traditional nursing home, a memory care unit or hospice, we are all related to – or know someone – who is living in a long-term care setting.

Within those settings there is companionship, of course. Our elderly have folks just like themselves with whom they can visit. And certainly, they find peace and companionship with others.

But just imagine if someone told you that you had to live in a closed community – with persons just like yourself – and your mobility was limited. Except for an occasional field trip outside, you would pretty much stay in the same place. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month.

That would get pretty boring, wouldn’t it?

Imagine then the smiles on people’s faces when you drop in to visit them. Even if it’s for just a few minutes, a visit to an elderly relative or friend will bring a smile to that person’s face. A half-hour visit could result in days or weeks of happy memories, not just of your recent visit, but of the visits and associations you had in the past. If you give that elderly relative or friend a birthday or Christmas card, don’t be surprised to see it safely tucked into a treasured place once they’re gone.

If you have a parent in long-term care, take your child or grandchild along for a visit. Learning to benefit from the wisdom of elders is an essential part of their education. Don’t deprive them of it. Ask your parent or grandparent or great-grandparent what it was like going to school or work back then. Maybe they’re older now, but our elders were at one time as thriving and vital as we are. And if you take your child or grandchild along when you visit your parents, they’ll learn to come visit you some day too.

The Native Americans and oriental cultures revered their elderly – and in many instances worshiped them. We can learn from their cultures by asking questions of our elders. They’re more than happy and willing to give it.

And Lord knows, we really need it.