“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
When my best friend passed away, I knew that I did everything I could to keep her as comfortable as possible throughout her last weeks of life.
To her, this meant hours of devoted company, laughing endlessly, feeling special with frequent flower deliveries, and feeling comforted in times of emotional and physical pain. For me, it meant the same, but it also meant doing everything I could to keep her out of any kind of nursing home or daily care program.
When Greystone offered me the option for volunteer time off (VTO), I knew I wanted to be a part of something I tried so hard to keep my loved ones so far from: an elderly care program. I wanted to be the compassionate caretaker to people who I felt didn’t have the same type of love that I was able to offer my best friend in her time of need.
Working with Elderhaus, an adult/elderly day program for those with disabilities, taught me that my initial stigmas about this environment were far from the truth. The care offered by the volunteers and employees was compassionate and they strove to make the families at the program feel comfortable.
It wasn’t just the team at Elderhaus that made this place feel like one big family – it was the participants.
While at a daily outing, I had one man lean towards me and remind me to help feed his friend, another tell me to help an individual wandering, and the wandering man reminding me to cut up his friend’s food. What you wouldn’t realize at the time is that these elderly individuals all had disabilities that hindered them, but they all acted and cared for each other as a family would.
As my Grandmother grew older, I always knew that I would do anything I could to care for her and keep her out of a home, but now I know that this façade of out-of-home care isn’t always reality.
I certainly gained a new perspective throughout this experience, and feel as though I have experienced what Gandhi meant by his wise words; when we are serving others, we learn about ourselves through the process.
A huge thanks to Elderhaus for allowing me to see a different side of daily care, and to Greystone for encouraging this opportunity.