More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife covers many aspects of the dying and grieving process and sheds light on euthanasia, suicide, near-death experience, and spirit visits after the passing of a loved one. ___________________________________________

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Elderly and Children Interact

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I spent time at my parent's house. My 94-year-old grandmother, whom we call Nanny, lives with them. My adult children and my three grandchildren were also at my parent's during the holiday last week.

Ever since Nanny fell and broke her hip two years ago, she has not been able to walk without a walker or wheel chair. For about a year and a half, she couldn't walk at all and had to be hoisted in and out of bed with a hydraulic lift.

My oldest grandson Sidney is nearly ten years old; he remembers when Nanny was mobile enough to help clean house and cook dinner. He is also accustomed to seeing her incapacitated and using a variety of medical equipment. He loved to swing in the hoist and ride up and down on the wheelchair lift on my mom's van when Nanny had need of those items. You can see him borrowing Nanny's walker to steady himself on roller blades!

My two younger grandsons, Liam and Jonas, (born two weeks apart in 2009) are now 17 months old. They have an entirely different relationship with Nanny.

Jonas has visited Nanny more often than Liam has. Jonas is quite comfortable with Nanny and will sit in the bed next to her and jabber away. He brings toys to her when she's sitting in her lift chair in the living room. He likes to push the buttons and make her go up and down.

Liam will have nothing to do with Nanny other than stare at her from across the room. He cries if she reaches out to touch him, and he screamed and climbed my body trying to keep me from putting him in bed next to her. I didn't force the issue. I simply held him and stepped back from her bed and he stopped crying. He also associates the wheelchair with Nanny and is intimidated by it.  He really didn't want to be in the wheelchair for this photo shoot, but since his cousins were playing in it and my mom was taking them for a ride, he bore with our shenanigans.

In summary, I think this comfort level (or lack thereof) has a lot to do with what a child gets used to, but it's also a difference in personality. Jonas is more outgoing than Liam in most ways, but I'm sure Liam would come to accept Nanny and her gear if he were around her more.

I think it is a good idea to let children try out the medical equipment used by an elderly or disabled family member as long as they don't get hurt or break the equipment. It's a good experience for children to interact with the elderly, but it should not be forced upon them. How do you feel about this?

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