Saturday, March 22, 2014

Adjustment of Aging


MY TRIBUTE
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Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you. Isaiah 46:4



This page is my tribute to the elderly in general. Herewith, I also want to show my deep respect, gratitude and affection to the hundreds of elderly, the sick and dying I have met in my life, especially during different positions: such as my occupation in the hospital on the Long-term Care floor; Activity Director in a large Home for the elderly; Health Care practitioner; Long-Term Care Specialist; Coordinator of Community Senior Services; and Executive Director of a local Hospice.



I have studied and done thorough research on aging, dying and death as well as many issues in the Social field. I have written several papers on the above subjects for study and work projects. I was a member of the Planning Committee with the local Health Council, Council on Aging and Home Support for the Elderly to advocate for and support the elderly to assure improvement of services, and of living conditions at home and in the institution.

Many of these elderly have made a long lasting impression  on my life that has shaped me into the person I am at present. Over nearly 15 years, I have developed a great compassion for them while I worked and walked with them. They shared with me their life, their joy, but also their psychological and emotional hurts, their losses, their frustrations, their bitterness, their sorrow and their tears.

The faces at the top of the page are very familiar to me. I've met them, I've touched them, I've held their hand, rubbed their back, listened to their stories and cried with them. I've dried their tears and I've prayed with many of them. Only God knows what I have seen, heard and experienced with the elderly, the sick and the dying.
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Activity Director at a 260 bed Home for the Aged

One day I was walking with Mr. Hill down the hall of an institution. He was an elderly man of about 84 years old, who was slightly confused. He was holding the railing with one hand and with the other he was hanging onto my hand. We were on our way to the lounge when Mr. Hill asked me what cruiser line this was. 

Right away I caught on that the railing in the hall reminded him of a cruising ship he had been on at one time. I didn't want to interrupt his memories and said to him: "So... and what kind of cruiser were you on?" He then told me all about his trip to Europe. By then we had arrived at the lounge where we sat down on the couch. Mr. Hill was still holding my hand and put his and mine on his lap, while quietly looking outside. 

After a while of sitting there holding hands, I carefully pulled my hand away, as I needed to get other things done. He looked at me with big eyes and said: "You're not going yet, are you? You're not leaving me here alone?" Something got caught in my throat as I heard him plead, and I realized how much he needed my company. My eyes welled up, as I finally got the words out: "I will be back shortly, Mr. Hill."

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You may not realize that most patients/residents on the Long-term Care floor, in the Nursing Home or the Home for the Aged have no more privacy other than a drawn curtain between beds. They even have no place to cry or to pray. They have to give up their familiar surroundings, their keepsakes, their personal treasures and pets to come to these places. 

The abrupt losses that they suffer are tremendous. They are stripped overnight of nearly everything, including neighbors and friends. No wonder they wet their pants, because they have become disoriented and confused and therefore cannot find the bathroom. No wonder some of them cling onto last years Christmas cards, for it is ALL they have. 

Please, NEVER clean up their drawers or throw anything away without their knowledge and approval. Rather, place yourself in their shoes and show empathy and love. The elderly need love, understanding and some special attention to compensate for all they have lost.
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One afternoon, while working in the hospital, Mary asked me to cut her fingernails. Mary was an elderly patient who was bedridden. I said to her that her nails were recently cut and could go for another few days. She responded with: "Don't nails still keep on growing a bit after one dies?" I said: "Yes, they do, but what has this to do with your nails?" 

Well, she said, I think I'm going to die soon. By then I walked to the door of her room and closed it as I felt she wanted to talk more about it. In the mean time I got the clippers out and while I was doing her nails we conversed about her soon coming death. I introduced her to the Gift of God and eternal life through Jesus Christ. She was receptive and I then read to her Psalm 23, The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. I prayed with her and Mary died within 48 hours.

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When I walked into Mr. Jones' room he waved his hand and called me to come over. Mr. Jones, who was over 90 years old, was sitting in his chair. He was immobile. He said to me: "Nurse will you look in that closet and see if my boots and my heavy winter coat are in there?" 
He continued: "I have asked the other nurses but nobody ever looked for me. They keep on telling me that I don't need them, but I would love to know if they're in the closet." 

Since I had learned that all behavior is meaningful, I wondered what was behind Mr. Jones' request. I walked to the closet and found his boots and heavy coat. While holding them both up high I said: " You mean these, Mr Jones"? "Yes, yes", he replied, " Oh, I'm so glad you did find them, now I can be at peace."

When I inquired what Mr. Jones wanted to do with his boots and coat, he told me that he wanted to be sure they were in the closet just in case his brother's cows got at large he could help him round them up and bring them back to the farm. -- I thought to myself: "So much for reality therapy." -- We had a nice chat about all the farm animals he raised. 

After, I gave him a piece of paper and a pen and asked him if he could write down all the animals that he had on his farm. He looked up at me and stared into my eyes as if he was saying: "Do you really mean this?" After a pause he swallowed, kind of smiled and said: "I haven't written for years, I'm not sure if I can still write." 

Mr. Jones tried and scribbled something on the paper, which I couldn't read. A piercing pain went through my soul. I realized that he had been socially abandoned for a long time. I gave Mr. Jones a cup of tea and I had to leave his room, because I had difficulty composing myself.
My heart cried as I thought: "Such is the life of the elderly."

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At times I had a real revival going on when I worked the evening shifts, while working in the Hospital. One night, after I put some familiar older Hymns on the tape deck, God's Spirit fell on some of the Long-Term Care patients in such a way that I had to close the door to their room, for they were "loudly" praising God. 
The head nurse, not knowing what was going on, asked me if she needed to give some of the patients a needle to keep them calm. "No, that's okay, I can handle them", was my reply, and I said quietly to myself: "HALLELUJAH, PRAISE GOD!"

Many of these patients have been starving for spiritual food and were neglected by family and even the pastor. People often think because the patient is confused she doesn't need to hear about God's word. How wrong they are. 

I can testify that even the most confused patient will respond to God's word, Hymns and the love of God distributed by other believers. I have even seen them come out of confusion as God's word brought freedom to them that are trapped in a decaying body and mind.


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Dear friend, my work became my Mission for God and not one day passed or I proclaimed the name of the Lord in word or in song, touching the lives of many elderly and patients. Please, remember when you look at them, that they're not only "old", but that they carry within them their childhood, teenage years and adult life. 

All these years of accumulated experiences, good and bad, are enclosed in this one person, the elderly. They are young and old at the same time, NOT just old.

Many of them suffer in silence and are withdrawn. It has become hard for them to express their feelings to others. They have lost interest in and the need for their peer group. The elderly are the least homogeneous group of all other age groups. 

Many are dying alone and without God. Although they may have been Church goers at one time, not all know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. And they that are believers often have not been stimulated in their faith, due to spiritual negligence.

If you do go and visit the elderly at their home, nursing home or hospital, allow them time to gain their confidence in you. After they come to trust you, please, make sure you share with them the love of God and His word. You'll soon find out how hungry they are and how much they have been starved of spiritual food.



How successful an individual adjusts to aging depends on many factors which influence one's life. Throughout our lifespan there are developmental processes by which we change or alter our behavior and thought life. Time and experience are our teachers!!

With the right stimulation and the positive attitude from our parents and the environment we lived in, we will have learned to solve problems and to adjust in the developmental stages, from infancy to early childhood. Through continuous experiences and interactions with people around us we will have adjusted or maladjusted to the next developmental stages of teenage, adolescence, adulthood, middle age and old age.

We react differently now to situations than that we did when we were children. We (supposed to) have learned how to react appropriately; how to behave and not misbehave; how to listen; how to obey etc...

It is not my intention to give you the psychological point of view on adjustment or maladjustment in developmental stages. For according to God's Word we cannot blame anyone else but ourselves for mistakes, errors, sins, bad habits, bad attitudes, unholiness etc. 

We are made responsible for our own life and sin. Even if we did have a bad childhood, terrible teenage years or lived in an abusive situation during our marriage, we are the ones who should seek the face of the Lord, get right with God and bring all our cares to Him.

Romans 3:23... For all have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God. 
Circumstances differ for each individual, but all can share the same experience; as they cry out to God in their need, He hears and answers. And all have equal cause to praise Him.

Psalm 107:5, 6...Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses.

You may say... well that is easier said than done, or....if you just knew what I had gone through, or... maybe you did have a better life than I had, or... I have nobody who really loves me, etc. 
That may well be true, but God is the SAME.
He has not changed!

Psalm 56:22... Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

What He did for Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Peter, Paul and even for me, HE will do for you. Please, read MY TESTIMONY, then you can see for yourself that my life was not all that desirable. But, what He says in His Word He will do. You have to believe His promises and you have to be obedient to the Word! No matter the circumstances, He can do the IMPOSSIBLE.
Praise His wonderful Name!

Psalm 17: 7b... Oh You who save those who trust in You from those who rise up against them.

Psalm 39:4-5... Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as hand-breadths, and my age is as nothing before You.



Let us focus more and more on things that really matter in this life. Keep a continuous contact with God, the Father, through Jesus Christ. Learn to lean on His word, apply it to your life and pass it on to them around you. Be a mirror of God's word and may people reflect themselves in it. Have your roots deep in God as a mature tree, stable and unmovable. Rejoice in your God, and Maker and enjoy His word as is written below.

Psalm 100-4... Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust.

Proverbs 20:29b...  And the splendor of old men is their gray head.

Titus 2:2-3... That the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things.

As you grow older your mind takes you into the past - to the good old days. You were full of energy then and you tackled things you would consider now impossible. You never thought about retiring, growing old or not being able to do the things you used to do.

Psalm 90: 12... So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Not for the sake of tallying up the number of years, but rather to live each day to the fullest in the Presence of the Most High. Number your days and count your blessings and thank God for every single one of them.

Psalm 92:13-14.... Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the Lord is upright.

The following prayer of an elderly lady is worth repeating:

"Lord, Thou know I am growing older.
Keep me from the idea that I must express myself on every subject.
Release me from the craving to meddle in everyone's affairs.
Keep my tongue from recital of endless details of the past which do not interest others. Seal my lips when I'm inclined to talk about my aches and pains.

They are increasing with the years, and my love to speak of them grows sweeter as time goes by. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong. Make me thoughtful, but not interfering; helpful, but not bossy.

With the wisdom and experience I've gained, it does seem a pity not to use it all, but thou knows, Lord that I want a few friends left at the end. So help me pray more, talk less. And beyond all this, let me continue to flourish spiritually and bring forth fruit to Thy glory even in old age. Amen!"


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Let me grow lovely growing old as many fine things do.
For silks, ivory and gold need not be always new;
and there is healing in old trees, old streets a glamour hold.
So why not I, as well as they, grow lovely growing old?
Anonymous.


The elderly, the sick and dying people have made a tremendous inpack on my life. Thank You Lord!

Dear friend, I have come to realize more and more my own aging and mortality. And as I see my life passing by before my own eyes, I want to do even more before I'm gone. Ten years will fly by like nothing. I can hardly believe how many years have passed since these pictures were taken and it made me somehow sad. These elderly people have all died by now.

Sorry, but I'm weeping and stirred in my soul. I can't help it. I'm hurt by thinking about all these souls and the pain that so many went through, and the thought that time will never return. 
Yesterday is gone... it's gone. 

Oh, God use me in an even more powerful way. Send them Lord, use me and this website in a greater power I pray, for Your glory and to bring Your Light to a people lost in sin and in darkness. AMEN!

May the Lord's face shine upon you and keep you until the day of His Return.

For the glory of God,
Minister Dr. Trudy Veerman



Copyright © Dr.Trudy Veerman, Published Author, 1994-2015. 
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