During this strange and challenging time we face, it is easy to become overwhelmed and project this onto others. As a chaplain in the healthcare field, I see much fear and anxiety from the residents’ family members, more so than from our residents themselves. As a family member of a former resident in longterm care, I empathize.
For the most part, our residents’ daily lives have not changed much. Yes, they are eating in their rooms and family members are not able to visit in person. However, many happy and meaningful moments continue to happen throughout their days and these have not changed: they receive numerous interactions as staff bring in activities, work puzzles with them, read to them, color or work on crafts, help them with technology, exercise time, bingo, hymn sings, Bible studies, check in on them, one-on-one visits, daily cares, snack time, and meeting their needs. The changes have come in how some of these are carried out in light of the CDC and CMS mandates. Happily, the new way of doing activities has brought much enjoyment to the residents and many are participating in events now offered in their room that they previously were not interested in.
Reminders I offer to families: Find rest in God; be a peacemaker and a hope giver; remember that life ebbs and flows and comes around again.
1. Psalm 62 (various): “Find rest, O my soul, in God; my hope comes from him. He is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times.” Do not be overcome with fear. Trust God for your rest, hope, and refuge. Trust your loved one into His watchful care as He directs the care we give to them.
2. Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers ... ” Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversation be full of grace,” Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let negative talk come out of you, but only what helps to build others up according to their needs, to benefit them.” Our residents’ frames of mind and emotions are easily influenced by the words and emotions of those they interact with; even more so, their family members as they visit through the window, on the phone, or via Zoom. I find that a resident who was feeling happy and positive just minutes earlier, becomes upset from the emotions of their family members. God’s Word tells us the tongue has incredible power. We are advised to watch our words, to remember the impact words have on our loved ones, and find inner calm to speak hope, joy, and peace to others.
3. Ecclesiastes 3 (various): “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born, a time to die; a time to heal … to build … to laugh … to dance … to gather … a time to embrace, a time to refrain from embracing; a time to be silent, a time to speak; a time to love … a time for peace. He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
Friends, be at peace and be instruments of peace to others’ hearts.