Once when working the night shift in a nursing home I was perplexed by a woman who suffered from extreme anxiety. She rang her call bell constantly and the staff always struggled to calm her down. This particular night she was quiet and content and I was confused when she told me that she would soon be going home to work on her garden that she missed so much. She spoke of seeing her family members and friends again and how wonderful it would be to be with them. I checked her chart and there weren’t any plans for her to be discharged so thinking that she was confused, I alerted the staff to keep a close eye on her.
One by one each staff member checked on her through the night and expressed the same concern – she was physically fine and seemed happy but the change in her demeanor was so extreme that we were certain her mental state was compromised. Early in the morning she finally slipped off to sleep and then passed away peacefully, finally reunited with her family and friends and free to work in her beloved garden. I have learned a lot by working with the elderly but watching this woman joyfully anticipate the end of her life reminded me to live in the present, not to fear the future, and to embrace things that don’t make sense as long as they bring deep joy.
Please share the wonderful thing this nurse learned from one of her elderly patients with your friends and family.