“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” -Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
This New Year's Eve I am reflecting on many things. The successes of business and family endeavors; fantastic journeys around the globe; celebrations of every variety, and many more.
A nursing home, decorated for the 2015 holidays.
But the end of this year also has me thinking about the folks to whom we must unfortunately say goodbye, as their voices slip into silence. I work in a realm of healthcare that most people don't generally think about until they or a loved one gets older or chronically ill. It’s called post-acute and long-term healthcare. Not always, but in most cases, the patients are elderly and they live in places such as nursing facilities that are specialized for their specific needs.
Walking through many nursing facilities and seeing the weathered faces I can't help but think of all of the wonderful stories that all of the residents collectively harbor. I recently read a New York Times article that chronicled the stories and life lessons of six New Yorkers aged 85 and older. In the case of dementia, Alzheimer's and related conditions, the affected patients are silent even in life. It is such a sad situation and I can’t help but remain optimistic that we will one day solve the puzzle of this terrible ravager of the mind. Until that day, these people will no longer be able to share their wisdom through their stories.
So while you celebrate the new year, pause and think about those who are trapped as prisoners in their own mind. Remember to spend time listening to stories with and from your elders and your loved ones so that they will never really become silent and can live on. And remember to share the stories you have with the younger generation so they’ll have memories to cherish, and the stories will never really be forgotten, but will instead be immortalized photographs hung in the halls of time.
Thank you to all of the healthcare providers who do their jobs with love and extra care. I wish everyone a very safe, healthy, prosperous and Happy New Year! Go make some new stories!
“In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” - Abraham Lincoln