‘Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.’ Proverbs 17:31 (NIV)
This past week my mother was admitted to a nursing home. She had been in the hospital, and it was determined she needed regular medical care in order to survive. And this is because my stepfather is no longer able, physically or mentally, to take care of her.
Some say that they will never allow a beloved family member to go to a nursing home. They will take care of them in their own home. Yet the reality is that when someone has reached this stage in life, and require medical care, and other services, it very well not be possible to care for them at home. There are considerations to be assessed. There must always be someone home to care for the person. The home may need to be handicapped accessible. Are there young children in the home? And the financial burden that comes with this responsibility must also be weighed.
My mom never wanted to go to a nursing home. Both her mother, and just recently her older sister, passed away in the same one she is now living in. But in each of their cases, it was the best solution to their care. And because the family stayed in touch, visited often, and connected with the medical staff, their time there was good time. They were well cared for, with good food and personal care, with activities and events on a regular basis, and with quality medical care.
So now my mom joins them. It is still difficult for the family. But it is the best thing for her, so that she may enjoy quality of life in her last years, and be safe from harm, and cared for properly.
That time comes, for everyone, if they have not succumbed early to illness or accident. It is the time of life’s winding down, of its slower pace, surrendered independence, and often debilitating medical conditions. It is part of what God has ordained to be, part of the circle of life. We live, we die. And this is the time that we must turn to God and ask for wisdom. Wisdom to understand, to care for the person in whatever way necessary, and to accept God’s will for our loved one’s last days.
Our parent’s aging does not negate their value to us. Their wisdom and experience are still just that. Often they are able to share with us, to mentor us, despite their new address. They still feel joy, share laughter, and love. Whether they can participate or not, they are still to be honored, cared for, and loved. They once cared for us, loved us, taught us. Making sure they have the best care possible at the end of their lives is the kindest, most loving act we can give them. When that time comes, we must use the wisdom that God gives us, to make responsible and appropriate arrangements for their care. Then they can live with dignity and grace with the honor they deserve.
‘Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.’ Isaiah 46:4 (NIV)