Friday, October 9, 2009

Respect Life for the Elderly and Infirm

Respect Life for the Elderly and Infirm
My Granny and Birdie
Respect Life Month is not only about the vulnerable unborn, but also the elderly and infirm.  While you follow and pray for the 40 Days for Life movement, please pray for, and assist or visit our elders, who deserve to be treated with dignity and integrity as they are no longer able to care for themselves.

The best column I’ve read  reminding us to care and visit the elderly and infirm came from Deacon Tom Fox, now a podcaster with Catholic Vitamins, writing as a guest columnist for Catholic Mom.   He reminds us,
“visiting the sick, the elderly, the confined – and showing them the dignity inherent in each human being – that’s a part of respect for life… whether the recipient knows or understands or not.”   
What an important statement for each of us involved and praying during this Respect Life Month.  How do we show Respect for Life to the elderly and infirm in our lives?  Do we treat them with the dignity they deserve even if they do not remember or understand our actions?

This topic is very personal for Shelly and I because we have a grandmother who suffers from Dementia.  It has been extremely difficult for our family to watch this once vibrant woman slip away from us while still in good physical health.  Granny was moved last year to "The Village", which is the name for the Dementia Care Unit at her facility. She has made a marked decline these last few years, with it seeming to speed up over the last several months.

It is not unusual to arrive for a visit and find her sitting on the couch waiting for her Daddy to take her home, or to find her without much emotion or things to talk about. While it is difficult to see her living in the past, I think the days where she is very quiet are more difficult to experience. The dementia has robbed her of that spark that made her uniquely her. 

Granny always had such a zest for life, so happy, always singing or humming a song - well, when she wasn't talking about the Astros or some other sports team. It is still amazing to me how much she knew about sports - specific stats about so many players and teams. And not just the Astros. She loved the Oilers, the New Orleans Saints and of course my own Houston Cougars.

This last Sunday, I was surprised to find her in a pleasant, dare I say, happy mood when my youngest daughter and I visited with her.  She laughed as my Birdie crawled all over her trying to find the best place to give her lots of kisses and hugs.  If she didn’t know who we were, she didn’t show it for a moment.  It amazes me how she and the other men and women in her unit react to my children.  Their faces brighten with an amused look the moment they see us come down the hallway.  The days Granny is unable to hold a conversation, I simply let the kids dance around in front of her. 

Deacon Tom inspired me to think about the benefits Granny receives from each person who visits her, whether she remembers them or not.  She, as do the other elderly men and women in her unit, deserve  being treated with dignity no matter if they remember us, a visit or their treatment.  Respect Life Month is a great time to make a committment to remembering and supporting our elderly and infirm with the dignity and respect they so richly deserve.

Do you have an elderly or infirm loved one we should add to our prayer list during Respect Life Month?

Lisa Jones

3 comments:

  1. I know I read this earlier this week when you wrote it, but it's still bringing tears to my eyes. Thank you Lisa for writing so beautifully about Granny and the other side of Respect Life month. Thank you Deacon Tom for your inspiring words earlier this year. I wish I lived closer so I could visit Granny (& Merr) every day.

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  2. I'm in tears as I read this. I knew I raise some wonderful children (with your dad's help, of course), but it's posts like this that affirm it. Thank you.
    Mom

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  3. Thanks so very much for the beautiful column on touching on Dignity and Respect For Life. Thank you for mentioning an earlier work of mine. I might refer you and readers to a current column over at www.catholicfamilypodcast.com The title is Jesus Wouldn't Let Go of My Hands -- and it touches on this same subject. Blessings to you - and may you be bathed in the comfort of His love as you see someone at this stage of their life. deacon tom

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