I ambitiously decided that I would brighten the lives of the elderly by volunteering at a rest home, but discovered that the elderly were being neglected, shoved aside and forgotten. As I stepped into the home a pungent odor penetrated my nostrils, causing an instantaneous gagging reflex. The place was abounded with neglected and subdued inhabitants, yearning for attention. Anybody that passed them caused a sudden outburst of ranting.
The negligence and disregard the home displayed appalled me, but helped me to realize that I wanted to make a difference and change the condition people live in.As I walked down the corridor I noticed a man lying in a hospital bed with only a television, two dressers, and a single window looking out at nothing cluttering his room. Depression overwhelmed me as I stared at the man laying on his bed, wearing a hospital gown stained by failed attempts to feed himself and watching a television that was not on. The fragments of an existence of a life once active and full of conviction and youth, now laid immovable in a state of unconsciousness.
He was unaffected by my presence and remained in his stupor, despondently watching the blank screen. The solitude I felt by merely observing the occupants of the home forced me to recognize the mentality of our culture, out with the old and in with the new.I then sat with a woman who was gazing out of the window. The woman appeared to be in her early eighties, but youth could still be seen in her angelic blue eyes which illuminated her entire presence.
Her face glowed with content and tranquility, and she carried a slight smile that finished her face so completely. Enchanted by her serene radiance, I did not disturb her. Suddenly she began to speak in a whispered hum that was more like a song, unique in a dwelling full of ranting outbursts. She spoke of years long past, swimming in the pond with her sister and dancing in the moonlight. I could picture all in my head, like I was watching a movie.
Then she began repeating the story she had just told me, and I realized that she was merely talking to herself. Although this discovery disenchanted me at first, I soon realized that, although the woman was talking to herself, she still had so many fantastic stories stored in her mind. The residents of the home all had some life flittering in them and numerous stories to share; they just need someone to listen to them. After my experience at the home I knew that one of my goals in life would always be o help make sure that people were receiving proper treatment, and not merely stuffed away and drugged up.
Being in the home was like a separate world, one between life and death. When I reached the outside world again everything seemed so fresh. There were bright yellow-green leaves that hung with an arrogant vivacity, cars that sped by with such fervor, wind blowing with verve and energy, lively children playing with a vivacious lust for life, and the vitality that exudes from the air into your lungs. I wanted to bring this energy into the home, or at least bring the residents outside to relive the liveliness that the world can provide. The inhabitants of the home appeared to be completely withdrawn from life and they had no aspirations for tomorrow.
I came to the understanding that by that age people were done, their lives were lived, and they only waited. However, it does not have to be that way. I learned from this experience how the elderly are treated in this country, how the advancements of technology making it possible for people to live longer is being wasted to keep people alive but not living.
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