It may be cold outside but for the sick and bedridden their room is constantly warm, often stuffy, sterile or claustrophobic. They have acclimated to the slower pace, the regimented schedule, the various smells, the bland tastes, and the noise of painful calls for a nurse from neighboring rooms, while they bask under the yellowish hue of the fluorescent lights. You bring in the outside world. You break the monotony of the cadence of same. You might view this as welcomed, but you must think of it like putting too much red pepper spice on your chili. It seemed like a good idea to take away the bland, but too much can make one feel hot and want to escape with nowhere to go. Remember in assisted living centers and the bedridden less is more. Bringing in 2 things from the outside world is about as much as they can handle. And one of those things is you. When the sick and bedridden get overwhelmed and cannot leave the overwhelming stimuli, they close down. The window of opportunity to bond is closed So be very selective as to what you bring and how you want to bond with the sick and bedridden. Keep it simple and basic, almost boring to you. But, if you must spice up just for the sake of holidays, then make sure it is just a sprinkle, a spark, a moment: one or two things to nudge their memories and stimulate their senses. Otherwise neither you nor the bedridden will feel understood or honored. The bond will go unconnected.
Here are some ideas on how you can bring the outside world into the world of the sick and the bedridden:
6. Bring Natures symbols to them to stimulate their nervous system.
Let them see something natural: the sunlight, a leaf from outdoors, a fish in a fishbowl, an old cat, therapy dog, or quiet bird.
7. Bring them temporary heat and strength from the outside world.
Put something warm over their belly button like a micro waved bag of rice, millet or sand.
8. Let relics and everyday symbols trigger their memories to bring closure.
Let them be surrounded by their favorite objects. Bring it to them like a traveling museum. Take them back after the visit if they are in assisted living center.
9. Don’t bring them roses, treat them like roses…roses in winter.
When roses are prepared for winter, we cut the branches away all the way to the trunk of the bush. We coat the cuts with black protective oil to prevent parasites from entering. We lay nourishing soil, blood meal down into the soil for the roots to feed off of as the elements become harsh and the weather becomes cold. Cover the roses to protect them from ice burn and destruction when they are most vulnerable.
Treat our sick like we would roses in winter: Keep them warm. Keep them safe from battle, having to protect themselves while they are vulnerable. Keep parasitic people and experiences away from them. Keep their open vulnerable places coated and covered from harm. Let them be still. Require nothing of them. Let them use their energy to consolidate and to regenerate from the essence of who they are.
It is the winter of their life. They should be able to hibernate. Reflect. They need to sustain the resilience in themselves. Dance with their fears: reflect, rehearse, relieve themselves.
10. Give them attention and study them verbally and non-verbally.
Listen for their take away life meaning. Make a core one liner for them as you sit. What are their repeated words, gestures, looks? What are their favorite objects? What is the meaning for them behind each of these objects? Help to refine to essence, the most important. There is no luxury for the irrelevant. Listen but expect to hear silence. Listen to their silence, their whispers. Watch the non-verbal. Speak to them without words. Less is more. Give them less. Give them basic. Give them a hint, a nibble, a whiff. That is all they can handle. But if you must take energy from them to focus and pay attention make it rich, quality and character driven in some spiritual language. Like very rich dark chocolate. A little is all you can handle, and it is more than enough.
11. Walk away with the gift of them and speak aloud for what you are grateful to them; what they taught you; how their modeling paved the way for you or how brave they are as they battle to stay alive. Try to understand what/who they would treat if they were a homeopathic remedy to help mankind? Speak the Language of Love. Words supported by the 5 senses. Bond with oxytocin. Make a memory like a recipe.
By protecting your bedridden loved one from too much stimuli from the outside world. As you wrap up your 90 minute visit with the sick and bedridden remember to pray with them. The holiday season is after all the season of light and miracles. Make only one: one prayer, one gift, one hug and one love. One connects the spiritual with the physical. The best formula for a sacred visit is to gather the ingredients of your visit: What sense organ will you stimulate in the 5 senses? Choose only one, otherwise they will get overwhelmed. Memory? Choose only one. Spark? Look of light and spark of energy from the outside world. Know there will be only one. It will be short and fleeting. Start to end your visit after you have seen it. Less is more. Then put that spark of energy together with your own energies carry that warm glow out into the world and light someone elses emotional candle with it. You will honor your loved one in this way. He/she will have given a gift to you and others, a spiritual gift, the best gift of all.
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