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Toddlers and Nursing Homes
I'm not comfortable sharing this. It's still too fresh. But for the sake of transparency, I'll give it a shot.
My grandmother is in a nursing home. I'm not proud of this fact. Under many circumstances, I do NOT consider nursing homes normal or acceptable options for elderly care. I do not agree with the principle of nursing homes. My personal viewpoint. You don't have to agree. I'm not sure where I came upon this belief system, but I hold families responsible for caring for their own.
But there's a problem. My grandmother frequently cannot remember who we are or where she is, and her speech is rarely understandable.
I love this woman to death. She was very mothering toward me all my life. She loved me, doted on me, spent way too much money on me, and prayed for me every day. She was committed to me far more than I was to her. Like I said, I love this woman.
The Physical Challenge
Her nursing home is 2+ hours away. In other words, I can't make the trip just any old time I want. Which leaves the weekend. But then, there's the issue of our kids. Obviously, at 8 months old, Micah is too young to go for a half day without his mommy around (he still breastfeeds almost exclusively).
My wife stays home with both kids every weekday. She also cooks three meals a day from scratch for the whole family. She also writes a popular blog. And don't get me started on the blog reader emails. In other words, she deserves a break.
That means taking my three and a half year old daughter with me on a 4.5 hr round trip INCLUDING the fabulous prize of wandering through an old dingy building filled with scary looking old people. In other words, there's just about ZERO fun involved in this trip for my Katiegirl.
The Emotional Challenge
It's a different issue, but I remember how scared I was when I first visited a facility that cared for mentally disabled children and teens. I was eight years old and my dad had been volunteering there for a while. He wanted to introduce me to some of the kids. I had NO idea what to expect, and the first sight of kids staring wide eyed with drool hanging down and hands clenched in unnatural positions, I was terrified and wishing I could run away.
I know it's not the same, but what if our Daddy / Daughter trip to the nursing home turns into a traumatic event for my daughter? I don't want to feed her any new images that could lead to fear or nightmares. I realize that at some point a child should be exposed to the realities of life, and I'm okay with that concept more so that most. But I question whether three and a half is old enough to expose her to things she will not understand.
I'm open to suggestions at this point. If you have experience with this or maybe just see an angle I haven't considered, I'm all ears (or... well... eyes). I want to bring joy to my Grandma by letting her see her great granddaughter again. But not at the cost of my daughter's sense of safety.
Let me know what you guys/gals think.