One of the most rewarding experiences of my life

Helping yourself by helping others is one of the best side effects of volunteering.
Opinion

Almost two years ago my mother went into a nursing home, as at 91 she was having some problems at home, and we were really worried about her.

She settled in pretty quickly, which was good. I would go to see her every day and was there one day when they were having craft.

Both mum and I were very interested, so I took her in to see what they were doing. Mum loved it so she went every week and I went with her.

They were a bit busy one day, so I offered to help. I was told I would have to fill out some forms if I wanted to be a volunteer. So, of course, I said yes, and they were very happy to have me. I have now been volunteering since then. I help with craft, Bingo and movie day once a month. As I am there every day, I also help when they have performances etc.

Volunteering in a nursing home is so rewarding. I really get so much out of it. My mum is happy that I visit every day and I’m happy to be there every day and to be a part of everything that is happening there. I have made some lovely new friends as well.

I am on medication for depression and going to the nursing home every day helps tremendously. It’s very uplifting, and I really look forward to going. If I can brighten even one person’s day, I am doing my job.

The staff and residents

The staff are all amazing and very welcoming, and I love all the residents. It’s very sad though when someone you have gotten to know passes away.

It’s quite funny at times too, as lots of the residents have dementia and you get asked three or four times, “where am I?” or you explain to someone several times that they live there and they have a room there!

One lady told me I looked older than my mother, who is now 93 (I am 63)! This same lady always asks me “how old do I look?”. You have to tell her that she looks younger than what she really is to keep her happy.

When I walk in, everyone waves and one lady always calls out to me, “nurse, nurse” so I go over and asks what’s wrong, but it’s sometimes hard to understand her as she reverts to her native language which is Belgian, so I just listen and try to understand.

I love all the residents, but I do have a few favourites, that I do take time out to go and talk to.

One lady told me one day that I brighten up the place when I come in, then the next day she told me that I was too noisy!

Bingo is quite entertaining. One lady says she is not going to play anymore if she doesn’t keep getting numbers on her card. Another man always wants to win the last round as they get a chocolate, and quite often he does win and gets his chocolate! Another lady always wants a cup of tea, and she also likes chocolate.

My mother

My mother now has vascular dementia and is not the same person anymore. It’s very sad to see the change in her. Some days she seems happy and the next she is upset, and one day she got angry at me. She doesn’t join in at craft anymore; she just has no interest at all. She still comes to Bingo, but now she is at my table with the people that I have to help. Some can’t hear properly; others get distracted while others just nod off.

I love my mother so much, in the past, she has helped me a lot when I was going through a rough patch with my marriage, so now it’s my turn to help her, and I know it is only going to get more difficult. Some days are harder than others, and some days it just gets to me. But as long as mum is here with us, I will always be there for her.

Do you have a parent in a nursing home? Do you visit them often? Or have you ever volunteered at a nursing home or retirement village? What was your experience?

 
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  1. Pamela  

    Thank you for sharing your story, Christine!

    Good blessings to you! 🙂

  2. Susan  

    I admire your dedication helping so many elderly people. I cared for my mother with dementia for the last six months of her life and I agree, it is rewarding to be of help in some way, keep up the good work.

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