Today, my post reflects on the “Forgotten Ones” – the elderly who are lost, lonely, and left behind.
My Aunt Agnes (Aggie) who just celebrated her 100th Christmas, lives in a long term care home. She suffers from Alzheimer’s. Her spotty memories focus on the distant past when she was a girl, but periodically revisit more recent times. She amazed us all this past Christmas Eve by playing Silent Night on the piano – an instrument she’s not played for decades.
Her residence is home to many Forgotten Ones. They rarely get visitors. They eat, they sleep, and they wait and watch from a row of chairs placed before the nurses desk. From there they can see who gets off the elevators. I wonder if they watch in hope that someone they know will suddenly appear. Aggie stays in her room, waiting and watching in her chair by the window, sometimes praying the rosary, sometimes falling asleep.
What I find so reprehensible is that so many of these forgotten ones have dedicated most of their lives to their families and to love, only to be cast aside and left to wither away with only the fragmented memories they have left.
These words come to mind when I ponder on Aggie’s plight:
THE FORGOTTEN ONES
There by the window she sits, watching, waiting,
And praying her rosary for those loved ones needing
Trying to grasp elusive memories left
Some come and some go; the ones from way back
Keep their post and help remembering while waiting
For family, loved ones to come and say hello.
Time passes silently; she falls asleep; time moves on
She wakes: “Does anyone know I am here… Where have I gone?
Why is no one coming to visit anymore?”
The questions reveal the sadness and the despair.
She sighs, “I guess I’m so old people just forget about me in my chair.”
The forgotten ones…
Many of them shuffle along the hall toward the dining room
No one bothers to phone, or visit, or show they care.
People are too busy – volunteers are too few.
They eat, they sleep – that is their fare.
Darkness falls and the paranoia sets in – fear of dying,
Fear of being alone, fear of confusion and lying.
They have no recourse – nothing to cling to but hope
For a phone call, a visit, a hug – the caring they are due.
Where has love gone – the hugs and closeness and warmth?
The forgotten ones…
All those years of giving and living for others.
What kind of sentence is this – doomed to die alone
And be among God’s forgotten ones?
All they want is a kiss, a hug, the warm sun,
And be loved till their days are done.
That is how we can help
The forgotten ones.
Anne Fioravanti / January, 2014