Written by Amber Mengarelli. Media by Jon Friedman.
Loneliness isn’t something only felt by people who feel left out of a social group or feel excluded by friends. Loneliness is also felt by those that have been placed in a nursing home and are hardly ever visited by family. I am a CNA and, unfortunately, I see this happen all the time. The only times I see visitors are when we have new admits and, even then, they are planning to leave soon. However, we have many residents that have been there for years and almost never have visitors. I know this can be pretty lonely for some. These residents would love to see someone who is there for them, which is why I think the younger generation should visit those in nursing homes.
When I was in General Psychology (and if you have taken that class here, then you know you have to do some sort of service work at various sites), I chose my site at Helia, now under the name Greenville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and all I did was either play cards or watch many episodes of “The Voice“ each week. And let me tell you, they loved it! They actually began to look forward to the two hours that they knew I was going to be there. I was doing something so little in my eyes, but to them, it meant the world.
I had gotten my CNA certification the spring before I took General Psychology, but it wasn’t until after that class that I really felt the need to go out and try to find a job. And it wasn’t until this past summer that I was finally hired somewhere. While the job is very demanding and there are days where I feel like giving up, I really enjoy being around the residents. Of course, the amount of complaining I do about the job doesn’t show that, but I really do love the people that I get to interact with and many of them have found a special place in my heart. It is because of this that I know I will be really sad when I have to leave. They may be old and need a lot of help, but to me, they are still people who deserve to be loved.
You don’t have to do anything extravagant; it can be something pretty simple. Where I work, we have people come in and do nails for the ladies in the building or we’ll have people come in and play games with the residents, and it’s something they look forward to it every week. However, the people that typically do these activities are older and are friends with many of the employees.
What we need, and what many other nursing homes need, are younger people that want to put a smile on someone’s face. I’ve seen how the residents’ faces light up when someone else’s grandchild comes in. They love when the younger generation comes in and interacts with them; it makes them feel wanted and it gives them the feeling that they aren’t alone because someone other than employees are there for them. I highly encourage volunteering and I honestly would not take back any of the time I have spent in nursing homes.