I’m not comfortable sharing this. It’s still too fresh. But for the sake of transparency, I’ll give it a shot.

My grandmother is in a nursing home. I’m not proud of this fact. Under many circumstances, I do NOT consider nursing homes normal or acceptable options for elderly care. I do not agree with the principle of nursing homes. My personal viewpoint. You don’t have to agree. I’m not sure where I came upon this belief system, but I hold families responsible for caring for their own.

But there’s a problem. My grandmother frequently cannot remember who we are or where she is, and her speech is rarely understandable.

I love this woman to death. She was very mothering toward me all my life. She loved me, doted on me, spent way too much money on me, and prayed for me every day. She was committed to me far more than I was to her. Like I said, I love this woman.

The Physical Challenge

Her nursing home is 2+ hours away. In other words, I can’t make the trip just any old time I want. Which leaves the weekend. But then, there’s the issue of our kids. Obviously, at 8 months old, Micah is too young to go for a half day without his mommy around (he still breastfeeds almost exclusively).

Mommypotamus stays home with both kids every weekday. She also cooks three meals a day from scratch for the whole family. She also writes a popular blog. And don’t get me started on the Mommypotamus emails. In other words, she deserves a break.

That means taking my three and a half year old daughter with me on a 4.5 hr round trip INCLUDING the fabulous prize of wandering through an old dingy building filled with scary looking old people. In other words, there’s just about ZERO fun involved in this trip for my Katiegirl.

The Emotional Challenge

It’s  a different issue, but I remember how scared I was when I first visited a facility that cared for mentally disabled children and teens. I was eight years old and my dad had been volunteering there for a while. He wanted to introduce me to some of the kids. I had NO idea what to expect, and the first sight of kids staring wide eyed with drool hanging down and hands clenched in unnatural positions, I was terrified and wishing I could run away.

I know it’s not the same, but what if our Daddy / Daughter trip to the nursing home turns into a traumatic event for my daughter? I don’t want to feed her any new images that could lead to fear or nightmares. I realize that at some point a child should be exposed to the realities of life, and I’m okay with that concept more so that most. But I question whether three and a half is old enough to expose her to things she will not understand.

Any Suggestions?

I’m open to suggestions at this point. If you have experience with this or maybe just see an angle I haven’t considered, I’m all ears (or… well… eyes). I want to bring joy to my Grandma by letting her see her great granddaughter again. But not at the cost of my daughter’s sense of safety.

Let me know what you guys/gals think.


5 responses to “Toddlers and Nursing Homes”

  1. Some nursing homes will allow you to “check out” a patient if you’re on an approved list. Maybe you could ditch the nursing home altogether by having the staff bring grandma to the car so ya’ll can head to a park. Just a thought . . .

    • I’m not comfortable taking her to a park. I don’t know what she needs to be safe.

  2. I visited multiple nursing homes every semester to sing in a choir from age 5 to 13. I specifically remember the matter-of-fact way my teacher explained the process of aging and sometimes sickness, etc. to us. I don’t think Katie is too young but will require more intentional conversation on your part. I suggest visiting the library and finding a children’s book about this very topic and making it a normal part of your reading. Then maybe have her work on something to give to your grandma (art for her wall, paper flowers) or maybe some cookies to take for the staff. It gets her actively involved in serving and much more likely to be excited about the visit. Hope this helps!

    An example: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/My-Grandmas-in-a-Nursing-Home/Judy-Delton/e/9780807553336/?itm=1&USRI=nursing+home

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