I hope this story about Albert back in 2001 can be used for reflection and discussion today to bring about more support.
Albert had already been in the residential home four days when I first met him. The events of four days had overtaken and introducing him to me was overlooked, and so I introduced myself. Albert gave the appearance of a gentle person. He was happy to join in the prayer service and gave the impression of feeling at peace.
I always made time to get to know new residents and so I wanted to get to know Albert, which I did over the following weeks. The staff talked to me about him. They said, he was confused, quiet, no trouble – the resident every home would want to have. They said he had a son who hasn’t been to see his dad.
Over the next few weeks I noticed a change in Albert; his face radiated great joy during the prayer services and other times he spoke of his family and his love for them, as well as the general heartaches of life.
A relationship of trust developed. He told me what I had recognised previously that there were things which saddened him which were hidden in his distant memory. He told me how throughout his life he gave to others, at work, church or in the community whether it be donations or time, he gave generously with a cheerful smile.
Now he said, ‘I have nothing and so, can give nothing. It is so hard to be here’. He spoke for some length about his feelings often with tears in his eyes. This mature man who was a provider for his family was now dependent on others. One thing about Albert was even though he was somewhat confused, he still could tell stories in only the way his generation did. Having the freedom to express his feelings, he felt comfortable and keen to listen when I spoke of how his life had changed now, and that he was still giving, but in a different way. All his money was handed over for his care, except for a small amount of pocket money. He was giving up almost all of his money which was helping to pay the wages of the care homes staff and medical professionals who in turn were dependant on him and many others to help provide for themselves and their families. He had never thought of it in this way and was very happy to be able to give in a new way.
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Points for discussion/reflection
HeARTS and Minds © Being a pastoral companion
How do we think of people who are frail- burden or part of society?
What’s the difference between this story and simply visiting the elderly?
Some things to consider:
6th July, St Augustine's B91 3QE 6.15-7.15 pm Holy Hour by Candlelight
6th July Abbey Park MHA Care Home CV3 4FR Rev Pauline Warner will be offering the Evening Service
9th July Mass Cardinal Heenan Care Home, Upholland, WN8 0QR for everyone who suffers from dementia and their relatives and professional carers.
Mount St Bernard's Abbey, Coalville,will pray for the work of the Pastoral Care Project, and everyone who suffers from dementia and those who care for them.
please email us of your prayer commitment and we can post here so people can benefit from .