Put away the cellphone

I was visiting a friend at an assisted living facility recently. Nearby in the lounge was a family visiting another resident.

A family of three, Mom, Dad, and a young teen, were sitting with a grandparent. I sadly noticed that the teen was totally absorbed by her cellphone the entire time they were there. Mom and Dad did interact with Grandma, but not in a truly interested way; they, too, had cellphones within easy reach and attention.

I couldn’t help but think of the wealth of stories Grandma had to tell, if only this family were truly present for the visit. Even those with dementia can usually remember old times, and they love to do it. A simple question, like “Tell me about making cookies with your mother when you were young,” or “How did you learn to drive, Gram?” “Did you ever get gum in your hair?” will bring forth wonderful memories. This can also bring about laughter and a communion of spirits, changing a “have-to” visit into a lovely time of shared remembrances.

Those cell phones could even be used to record a conversation and share history with Grandma or take photos of Grandpa to create a family archive!

It’s tough to disconnect in our digital world, but we all need to make an effort to periodically put down our phones and focus on what’s really important.

Learn more about guest blogger and senior writer Gloria VanDemmeltraadt

2 thoughts on “Put away the cellphone

  1. Thank you for your wise words. I am a resident of a local nursing home and at 73,am the “kid on the wing” as most of the residents here are between 85 and 100 years old.. Some time ago, it occurred to me that the new hires were not being trained to deal with the very elderly, so I asked to speak to them during their orientation… in a nutshell, this is part of what I have to say to them: I begin with the observation that these people have lost everything…their homes, their independence, their spouses, even their pets. The only thing they have left is their dignity, and I remind the newbies to make sure the residents don’t lose that on their watch! Then I tell them a number of things that should be obvious, but aren’t, apparently! Thank you for adding cell phones to my list of “don’t.”

  2. The very elderly live for family visits. A generation ago, most of them would have been cared for at home,not “warehoused” in nursing homes, but the cost of living has made two-income families a necessity in many cases.

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