8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are scary. Not only is there the perpetual smell of urine and chemical cleaners, there’s the constant blathering of a thousand TVs all set to something different…not to mention they’re full of little old ladies who mistake you for their daughter (when actually you’re their son).

8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes — Kimia Wood

Image credit: IrishExaminer.com

And yet…Those little old ladies are sick, lonely, inching towards death, trapped in this mysterious and scary place that smells like body fluids, and could sure use a smiling face to set the day apart from all others.

In short…they could use YOU to break up the week and bring some cheer into their pain and uncertainty!

Impossible, you say? You could never go visiting in a nursing home? You’d rather be caught dead than in one of those places? (Jinx.)

It’s not as scary as you think. Check out these tips for visiting a nursing home…and then you might decide that even you can help out in this important ministry!

Starting is the Hardest

The first time I visited a nursing home, I wasn’t sure I would make it.

When you walk in, you might not know anyone. Besides the intimidating environment, you don’t know what to expect. Anything could happen.

You’re there to “love on people” and “touch lives”…but what does that even look like in real life?

You won’t know until you try. And chances are, it’ll look different in your case than it did in mine…but don’t give up!

Here are some strategies to make those new friends:

  • Walk down the hall, knock on doors, and see who smiles back at you. Chances are good that people will let you say hello for a few minutes, if you just ask.
  • Contact the staff of the facility where you’re visiting, and ask them which residents don’t have family or friends in the area…or which residents might enjoy having the Bible or a devotional read to them. The staff will probably be excited to help you…Our bodies heal faster when our minds and emotions are in good shape!
  • Bring a dog, baby, or small child with you. People will come to you to make friends!
  • Talk to the activities director or other person in charge, and bring a craft, special movie night, or other activity in to the facility. Those who are able and interested in participating will show up…and now you have a connection for other visiting opportunities!
  • Go see someone you already know: a relative, former church member, or friend of someone you know. Chances are they’ll have a roommate you can talk to at the same time, and you might meet someone in the hallway you can get to know.

It does get better!

You’ll get the hang of things, find a routine, and make new friends.

Just like the first day of school, the first month in a new town, or the first few weeks in a new apartment building…it’ll take getting used to.

Just remember: there are no strangers – only friends you haven’t met yet!

Take a Buddy

Yes, you’re there to make new friends…but sometimes the best way to do that is to bring old friends!

From the disciples Jesus sent out, to Paul and Silas and Barnabas and John Mark, to the multiple-elder model of the Biblical church, we’re supposed to do ministry together.

Not only does this provide accountability, to 1) keep us on the straight and narrow and 2) protect our reputation from the Enemy…but it’s also more fun!

Walking into a strange place to speak to people you don’t know is a lot less intimidating when you have a buddy at your side. Whether it’s a family member, a friend, or someone from your church, take that buddy!

You can’t swim without a buddy…don’t try to visit without a buddy. They’ll be there for you when you don’t know what to say, they’ll be a prayer partner with you, and they’ll keep the ball rolling on days when you can’t make it.

No one ever said you had to do this alone! So don’t try 🙂

Don’t Worry About What You’ll Say

8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes — Kimia Wood

My grandma, dying of brain cancer

What do you do when an old lady looks right at you and says, “I’m dying?”

When a woman tells you she has cancer?

When someone weeps about the disfunction in her family, and how she’s not getting the care she wants?

Just like Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, the temptation is to open our big mouths and fix everybody’s problems.

Sometimes they need their problems fixed. Sometimes God put us there to share Jesus with them and point them to ultimate healing.

And sometimes…the very best thing we can do is sit beside them, holding their hand and crying with them.

It feels like doing diddly-squat. But people appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

Pray. A Lot. For Everything

What about the times when you need to say something?

You’ve got the Holy Spirit inside you, right? Leave it to Him.

If He starts poking you from the inside, whispering, “This lady will go to Hell without Me — introduce us!” you just better listen is all I’m saying.

And as long as you’re having good, long conversations with Him on a daily basis, you’ll have the strength you need.

Pray for one another

You can also pray for your friends – new and old!

While it’s vital that you spend quality time with God for your own spiritual health, it’s also important to bring others before him.

Your contacts in the nursing home will have obvious needs (physical, emotional, and spiritual) that you should tell your Father about…but what about your visiting buddies?

Don’t forget to pray for them, too — that they will have just the right words to say, that they will meet just the right person God wants them to minister to, and that they will be strong on the days that are hard.

(And encourage them to pray for you, too!)

Just Showing Up Means the World

If you don’t take anything else away from this post, learn this:

Don’t sweat it.

God is able to take your little, pathetic efforts, and work His grand, amazing scheme out of it.

You’ve taken the first step. God doesn’t ask us to give Him everything all at once…just one thing more.

And until you actually step out, you’ll have no idea how much five minutes of conversation actually means to someone!

Just one short conversation with someone who isn’t paid to be there, who isn’t necessarily related to them, and who’s only there to brighten their day…people will be so grateful, it’ll break your heart.

Commit

Like dieting, exercising, cleaning the house, and other good habits, consistency is key.

Go once a week…or even every other week. That’s all. No pressure.

The more you show up, over and over again, the deeper your relationships with the patients will be. They’ll start to expect you. They’ll remember you from last time, and smile.

You’ll have made a friend.

They’re the ones stuck in a nursing home, so it’ll be up to you to make the effort. But you can do it!

(Not only that, but the staff will start to notice your commitment and faithfulness…which gives you another place to shine Jesus’ love!)

Just show up – week after week, month after month – and people will begin to trust you…in a way that they can’t trust someone who might or might not show up, maybe.

Find a schedule that works for you.

Don’t let yourself make excuses. If this is what God wants you to be doing with your time, make sure you get it done.

And again…don’t sweat it. Emergencies will come up, you’ll miss a day here and there…and sometimes your “contacts” will be out, too.

Just make sure that, when you commit, you really mean it.

It’ll mean the world to some poor senior or patient.

Pray – All the Time – For Everything

Did I mention this?

It’s not super hard to remember to pray for your new friends…especially if you write it down and ask your ministry partners to hold you accountable.

What I find harder is remembering to pray before I go visiting…and to pray for the right words, that God will lead us to the right people, that I will trust Him in every situation, etc.

8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes — Kimia Wood

Look at that smile 🙂

But this is just as important.

Pray for your fellow visitors. Also pray for the families of the people you will meet, and for the staff, and for the healthcare system as a whole (it needs it, trust me).

Pray that Jesus will be evident in every single action we take.

In this way, you will immerse yourself in God’s will, and invite His Holy Spirit to take charge of your life – and of your commitment to visiting.

I said “take a buddy.” The Holy Spirit is the best buddy you can take.

You Will Fall in Love

I keep saying, “You’ll make new friends.” This is not a figure of speech.

You might just get addicted to this. If a week goes by, and you don’t visit your little buddies, you’ll feel weird.

You’ll have deep conversations…some hard, some amazingly cool. You’ll get to gush about Jesus, and maybe find out you have “brothers and sisters” in some unexpected places.

Your heart will break. You’ll be built up. You will touch the lives of some lonely, desperate people.

God doesn’t call all of us to this kind of ministry…but if He’s calling you, don’t be afraid. He’s got this!

Now go be sunshine to someone who needs it!


8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes — Kimia WoodKimia Wood currently lives somewhere in the American Midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to her mailing list for a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier! You’ll also receive periodic updates on her latest reading and writing adventures.

20 Steps to a DIY Thread Rack

Ready to make your very own DIY thread spool rack? Yay! This is totally just like one of those peg-board racks you’d buy in the store, except made by you and a lot different.

You will need:

a zillion spools of thread (left over from your hoarder grandma);

skinny dowel rods (1/18-inch to 3/18-inch work best–they need to fit through the spools);

boards;

nail and hammer;

hooks (I used “brass plated cup hooks”. They have a curving head so they don’t accidentally drop anything);

fabric;

staple gun and staples;

patience

READ ALL DIRECTIONS BEFORE BEGINNING Continue reading

The Writer’s Vicious Cycle

A brand-new author on the block–
Trying to learn ’bout this “marketing” talk.

She follows the people who seem to know;
They say, “Do like me! Now, GO, GO, GO!”

Except, they’re all talking ’bout “author marketing”,
So she ends up talking to authors marketing.

The Writer's Vicious Cycle — Kimia Wood

Image credit: torrilynn@hubpages

And the readers are stuck with their SPAM and eggs
(When they’d rather be blowing up castles and Dregs).

They think that my book (titled Sons of the King)
Is all like “How TWITTER Can Get You the BLING!”

The Auto-DM allows no escape;
We’re firmly wound up, like with clear packing tape.

What’s my Theme? What’s my Brand? I must find my own Style!
(Oh, well; another post for the “Didn’t Work” pile.)

My genre is novels! But which Fiction shelf?
I just couldn’t find one that quite matched myself.

The Writer's Vicious Cycle — Kimia WoodSo I pushed some books over, down here on the end,
And scribbled my name there — Mark will understand.


Kimia Wood currently lives somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by baking, knitting, blogging, writing…and other excuses for not gardening.

Subscribe to the mailing list for a FREE copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure Soldier.

Why I Don’t Need College

It’s a season of transition for many, as students graduate and prepare for the next stage of their lives. My cousin and brother have both graduated from high school. Many high school students will go on to college/university.

But this cultural edifice is not for me.

Be careful how you share this online, so my grandparents don’t see it (!) but in spite of their repeated entreaties, I don’t feel the need for more than my 4.0 Associate of Arts degree. In case some of my reasons resonate with you, I’m sharing them. Continue reading

How to Turn a Log into a Shelf

DIY Shoe-shelf in 20 Steps!

I’m pretty excited. This past week I finished what was essentially my first wood-working project ever: a shoe shelf to help clear our coat room floor of the jumble of shoes.

To imitate my process and make your own beautiful log shelf, just follow these steps:

  1. Select a log roughly as long as your shelf will be wide. Also select a thickish branch to serve as the supports on either side.
  2. Decide the log is about four inches too long, and start to saw off the end with a hack-saw. Either at this step or later, begin to de-bark the log (I preferred using a hatchet for that).
  3. Decide that this is taking too long, and that you don’t actually need the end sawn off. Measure and mark off three demarcations (in preparation for sawing the log into four boards, for four shelves).
  4. Begin sawing the first board down vertically – with a hack-saw.
  5. Decide this is taking much too long, and you need help. Get Dad to teach you to use the electric straight-saw.
  6. Start cutting out five boards instead of four – the branches as walls/supports idea wasn’t that good, so you’ll use the three internal boards as shelves, and the two outer ones (after you finish de-barking them) as the sides of the shelf. Brilliant!
  7. Decide this whole sawing thing is taking altogether too long, and convince Dad to teach you how to use the electric chain-saw.
  8. Saw your five boards with the chain-saw. This will take a few sessions; also, cut as straight as possible so one of the boards doesn’t come out with weird gouges where you had to correct your path…ahem…
  9. Once the boards are finally cut, you can use the sander and sand them! This is a good step to make sure the two ends are as de-barked as you want them to be. (I didn’t bother de-barking the shelf-boards, but I did remove any loose, dirty-looking bits with the hatchet.)

    IMG_9502-edited

    This lumber is not from a store.

  10. After sanding, ask Dad’s help holding the pieces together while you pound in the nails.
  11. Find out it’s better to put the heavier ends of the support boards on the bottom. Also, please note that your log was not straight up-and-down, so all your boards have cunning curvature to them now.
  12. After Dad has pounded in some of the nails, change your mind about how you want the boards to be arranged (after you find out the one for the middle shelf isn’t a proper size, the one for the top shelf isn’t the proper size either, etc.).
  13. With the help of your charming and obliging brother, nail the rest of the boards together, with the two curved sides arranged vertically as the supports/walls/ends (so, I hope you have something else to do with that branch…ahem). Also, this step will teach you that driving nails into a raw log isn’t nearly as easy as Dad made it look. Many nails will be bent, most likely.
  14. The shelf is assembled! Time to varnish it! If you’re following my process exactly, you won’t have any varnish in the house, so will have to wait before proceeding.
  15. Coat the shelf with water-soluable, clear-drying epoxy varnish to protect it from bugs and dirt, while preserving the nature look of the wood. (Bonus points if your basement – or wherever you’re doing this project – floods with ten inches of water at around this step.)

    IMG_9505-edited

    At least it still matches the aesthetic.

  16. Remember the curvature we mentioned in Step 11? This has make your shelf tilt backward, meaning that if you set any shoes on the top shelf, it might fall over. Fortunately, we have a section of this very log that we sawed off in Step 2 (back when we still thought the log was three or four inches too long). Using the natural curvature of the wood, use this piece to fashion shims under the backside of the bottom shelf.
  17. Varnish the shims.
  18. Get a piece of felt big enough to cover the whole bottom of the shelf. Glue the felt (I used hot-glue) to the shims and the front part of the bottom shelf where it will touch the floor. You can then trim off any felt that would show around the edges, and some of the felt that won’t actually touch the floor because it’s above the level of the shims.
  19. Set the shelf in its place, felt-side down.
  20. Put shoes on the shelf. HOORAY!

    IMG_9507

    The shoes are not on the floor. Mission accomplished.