Happier exits from this world for the very old and very sick is to THINK VISUAL.
I went visiting a friendís dad in an old peoples care facility over Easter. I was reminded of this same issue, the stark environment old people are placed into. Its been an issue I always wanted to address and write about concerning some luxury that was so badly needed for old people, instead of this hospital bed layout only. Recreation needs to be rethinked and revamped to think more visually. What environment would you like your soul to be in if you were old and sick, neglected maybe, but you could still get about still somehow, yet needed taking care of? I know what I would like.
Protected and safe built in fish tanks from a distance, as visual affects to soothe my soul, instead of disturbed affects for a while from wondering around the corridors of emptiness would do for a starter and maybe some plants from a distance in the locked up quarters. Again a visual and very much a connecting nature theme. A room where there's soothing sounds and quiet melodyís, where one could wonder into and out of, with fun visual painted walls with themes or wall papers, and possibly another room with a library affect as book wall paper for silent contemplation and reflection. Some people love books even if itís only wallpaper or painted books on walls. Maybe a stamp collection wall paper, or butterflies, or maybe a desert island theme with palm trees. The familiar gives a sense of extra safety and assurance and sends messages to the brain to the personís well being in such a place. Lets turn those words, "such a place" into a great place to go to. I know such things would certainly do it for me, even if the books on the wall were not real. Now if we had some spas and massaging too, that would be simply perfect.
Aromatics are another. Really, beautiful smells have great healing powers. Build indoor water fountains but out of reach so one could hear the sound of water, then have these themes designated to particular rooms or areas. Some simple tests along these lines might be an idea, and maybe they are already here, but I haven't really seen it as such in real operation. And well, they are way over due if you ask me. What about a computer for fun and games for one or two real nerdy types that still have a spark in them, but wouldn't know it unless there was a computer around, at least for some times on a good day. Pretty colorful fabrics for some old ladies maybe. Oh and while were at it, what about some shops? A cake shop and a clothes shop, and a mess around for fun/pretend hair dressing shop. How will we know if we don't incorporate it into the environment of the old and sick? They should all be safe and nothing too stimulating or too exciting for too long, but its better than dying from boredom if your not really bed ridden. The mind shouldn't be the only place one can go. Having a place where you could actually monitor what roomís people actually roam into randomly and got better over time or at least remained stable would also be quite an experiment.
Then these small comforts should become mandatory. They would really be a helpful start to any personís soul before leaving this world. The familiar sounds and smell of nature within ones surroundings is very comforting. Build it so itís safe. Money? I really don't think that's an issue. Have a charity walk or something to raise money if you think it is. It should be a nice place to stay & also visit, whether you feel or think that very old and very sick person is incoherent or not. I have found many to have their scruples, even if it makes no sense to us. Just because we don't know if they understand us any more is no reason to think they cant. I strongly believe, its just another level that we as a society haven't quite worked out as yet. Such luxuries and comforts I'm sure could bring some back to life as in bring them back more often from their own little worlds where they have withdrawn into even further, possibly induced by the stark or lonely reality of their environment. It may even break barriers towards recovery or more miraculous communications, or at least if that was asking too much, it wouldn't be such a stark exit from this world for both the patient and the relative to witness as final days.
Before I left, I gave my friendís dad a song and a dance in the halls, seeing he didn't want to sit down all the time we were there, and he really responded to that. We wondered about with him in the hallways. I noticed he gravitated towards a frog sound someone had on coming from a listening sound box in another ward. He really wanted to lie down, but I think the man in the next bed to him who we heard nearly died that night may have disturbed him, and well he didn't want to go to his room with that energy going on I expect. I wondered off for a while to help soothe some other poor old frail skeleton of a man who was very poorly in bed to give my friend some space with her father. I felt drained after we left, but mostly saddened by the environment of these places as ever.
After we left we went to a supermarket to get me some eggs to paint for Easter. I remembered thinking, God I'm alive and free by simply being able to walk around this supermarket. Something I had taken so much for granted. Then I thought, old age wasn't something that I would be looking forward to if it were in that way. The words, looking forward to echoed about in my mind.
Really, it shouldn't have to be like that. There's simplicity and then there's simplicity right? Itís in our power to change it. A place where one can say they are happier to be there than at home is just the beginning to changing attitudes. On the other hand lets not knock what we already have achieved over time. Gosh, it could be worse as reality goes. But no, really, let's keep on improving the conditions of our lives, let's all make life a happier and more positive exit. Above all, lets not forget, human kindness is what really matters in the end.
copyright (c) 2000-2002. Jacqueline Howett. All rights reserved.