Right Now Love — Why Kids Should Visit the Elderly

An older woman side-hugging a child
Shironosov/iStock/Thinkstock

My daughter glanced in my direction when our elderly friend, Elizabeth, said to her, "Well, hello there. What's your name?"

"I'm Sami." She smiled at Elizabeth's wrinkled face.

"Sami. Is that short for Samantha?"

"Yes, Ma'am." Sami held up a brush. "You have beautiful hair. May I brush it?"

"I would love that, honey. Why, when I was little . . ." With that, Elizabeth launched into the same story she'd told us many times. Elizabeth suffered from Alzheimer's disease and now required full-time care. She was the mother of a good friend of mine, so we often came to visit her in her care facility.

Talking with her

" . . . and then I met my husband," Elizabeth concluded.

"Was he a 'looker'?" Sami asked, grinning. She already knew Elizabeth had been a smitten 18-year-old when she met her husband, Frank. She'd often described her handsome husband as "quite a looker."

"Oh my, yes." She laughed. "He was something. All my friends tried to catch his eye."

"But he fell in love with you, didn't he, Ms. Elizabeth?"

"He sure did, darling," Elizabeth said. "And when we kissed that night on the bridge, I thought I would fall over the edge and splash right into the water."

Sami laughed out loud. "He was a good kisser?"

"Oh child, you shouldn't ask such things." She grinned and then winked. "But yes, he made my heart gallop like a racehorse."

I couldn't help but smile as I watched Sami and Elizabeth banter.

Explaining why

Early on, it was difficult for Sami to understand why Elizabeth forgot who Sami was every time we visited.

"Mom," she said once, "why do we go to see her when she forgets us as soon as we leave? Isn't it like we weren't even there?"

"Well," I said, "it depends on how you look at it. She enjoys us when we're there, right?"

"Right."

"She smiles big and tells you stories. In fact, every time she sees you, her eyes light up, even though she thinks she's meeting you for the first time." I struggled for a minute, trying to think of a way to explain it. I leaned over and rubbed her back. She curved it like a kitty cat. "You like when I rub your back, right? Even if you couldn't remember it afterward, would you still want me to do it?"

"I wouldn't care if I forgot. I love when you rub my back."

"Well, that's why we love on Ms. Elizabeth. She likes it when we're there. And that's enough."

Loving one another

Sami thought for a minute. Then her face lit up. "It's right-now love! Like when you eat ice cream or watch a really funny cartoon. It may not last very long, but you love it while you have it." She smiled. "And that's enough."

She got it.

And that's enough.

"Right Now Love" first appeared in the January, 2008 issue of Discovery Years. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Thriving Family, a marriage and parenting magazine published by Focus on the Family. Get Thriving Family delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.

Copyright © 2008, Elsa Kok Colopy. Used by permission.

Next in this Series: Valuing the Elderly

You Might Also Like: