(PUB. NOTE: As a note of explanation, Cindy wants readers to know that the nursing home which she writes about in her column this week — and had such a bad experience with — is located far away in another state and that her comments are in no way directed toward any facilities in this area or elsewhere whose staffs go above and beyond the call of duty to provide love and care for their residents. — T.C.)
Life in a nursing home is depressing. I recently spent time in one, helping my mother as she recovered from a stroke. While some residents continually cried out for help, most were slumped in a chair or lying in bed. Few smiles were returned, and my heart ached for those helpless elderly people.
I found myself crying out, too, from alarming negative incidents. The staff had erroneously given my mother medication and neglected her cleanliness. During the weekend, the healthcare facility was understaffed and call buttons were unanswered. Even asking face-to-face for help didn’t get the few employees at the main desk out of their seats.
I did my best to conceal my anger over the lack of care and mismanagement of medication. Attempting to be extra friendly, I gave shoulder rubs to workers (who thoroughly enjoyed them). Yet, my mom’s care was still substandard. The burden of tending to her unaided during the weekend boiled over into my attitude.
As I talked to the Lord about every bad situation I had to deal with, He planted another viewpoint in my mind. When the staff twice tried to give my mom drugs she wasn’t supposed to have, I was there to stop the nurses and tell my mother to spit the pill out. I was there to make sure she had meals she could eat.
The weekend staff did not receive the updated admission information and were trying to call the wrong physician and contact person. I was present to give them the correct names and phone numbers.
When no one came to wash and dress my mom, I was there to get the job done. I also found a wheelchair and pushed her through the hallways and outside the building, which alleviated her disorientation.
The Lord had provided for us both. Every needed therapist happened to cross my path the day I arrived, so my mom’s physical, occupational, and speech therapy began immediately afterwards. From different directions, management and the assistant administrator walked by me at the same time, which generated a meeting concerning my mother’s future care. God had arranged the timing so I could stop the bad, meet the right people, and fix the errors. He gave me strength and patience to take care of my 89-year-old parent. And my mother improved remarkably.
When the Lord showed me the positive side of every complaint, my heart became grateful and my anger subsided. I realized my stress was from acting like her recovery was all up to me. But in reality, God has always been in control and was using me to better my mom’s circumstances. I had to recognize who was really in charge. The Lord had already orchestrated her stroke to take place inside a doctor’s office, enabling her to be quickly hospitalized, undergo a cat scan, and treat her clot with the appropriate medicine — all under three hours.
The next day I asked the Lord for a sign to confirm my lesson. If He’d continue to be with my mom, then lower her blood pressure to the 120’s. Thinking that was asking too much, I changed it to the 130’s. The next reading was 98/56.
God has always been faithful; I have to remember to lean on Him. I’m reminded of the chorus, “Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms; leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.” In Deuteronomy 33:27 we read, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” The godless may lean on a spider web that gives way (Job 8:13-15); however, leaning on the Lord gives you endless support.
As I kissed my mother goodbye, my eyes became teary from thinking that could be the last time I see her alive. Without an advocate, she could easily fail there.
Three days later, my mom died suddenly. I don’t know the “whys;” she was almost fully recovered. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). I was privileged to care for my mother and demonstrate my love for her once more. And God answered our prayers to take her quickly when it was her time, without suffering or experiencing a slow deterioration. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit reminded me that Jesus was my mom’s Lord, too.