For many years now I have been haunted by a voice pleading through a hospital room door. I could tell it was a rather elderly Seasoned Citizen, calling for “someone, anyone,” to her bedside. I questioned the nurses and they cautioned me not to interfere. “She has dementia,” they said, “She’s always calling out like that – just ignore her.” I listened to them and have regretted it ever since.
True, my husband was hospitalized then also and I had my first loyalty to him, but I keep wondering at the unfeeling callowness of people to not hear the need for human comfort, the touch of a hand, the sound of a soft, calming voice; wouldn’t that help anyone, especially someone suffering from dementia and lost in her own strange, dark world?
I think we need to establish a “Care Corps” similar to the “Peace Corps” but functioning inside our borders. Volunteers willing to use their time to comfort the aged and infirm, not for money, but for the knowledge that they are helping others live quality lives.
There are shut-ins who would love to receive short phone calls a few times a week, keeping them attached to the world, so they could hear not only another’s voice, but their own.
I have a theory that some seasoned citizens have gravely voices because they don’t have anyone to talk to, so their vocal chords atrophy. There are people in hospitals who have no relatives and need a caring person to visit, assuring them they are still viable, live human beings.
We’ve become a very self-centered nation, texting and taking selfies. We have lost the art of conversation and replaced it with a short attention span. Why watch “Casablanca” and follow a story line when you can see fantastic superheroes with talons and wings and animal bodies beat each other up every five minutes?
Stop all the distraction, become more aware of the world around you, and try to realize that one day you may be that person behind a hospital curtain crying out for a piece of humanity.
I like my idea of a “Care Corps,” including people of all ages befriending those who need to hear a voice, or feel a friendly touch, or see a smiling face. If this interests any of you, I’d love some feedback. Perhaps we can start a whole new humanitarian movement.
You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.