Television And Church: Either Old Or Lazy Men

This time I want to talk about nursery homes. Of course, this isn’t really a subject that just covers Missouri, or even the United States. We’ve got nursery homes too, and a lot of things that I noticed in the Midwest, are probably just as true in the Netherlands. Having kept everyone from both disappointment and writing clever comments (feel welcome to), I’d like to give an impression of my time in an American nursery home. Literally the first thing I saw when I entered the home, was a giant tv. There was something on that promoted the benefits of cremation instead of burying (Mike, think of all the room you’d save!). It lasted for over three minutes, and all this time I was stunned by the programs they showed to these people. Of course, it turned out to be the commercial in a break from watching Lingo all day. I knew Americans watch an awful lot of television, and your old people are not keeping the stats down. It felt kind of depressing, as if a nursery home itself isn’t a down place enough.

One of the things I witnessed was a church gathering in the lobby. Visiting my girlfriend’s grandfather and respecting his desire to be there, we stayed to watch the mini-service. I sang a few songs from the sheets they handed out and it wasn’t up to the second round that I realized they were just repeating the whole thing. I didn’t necessarily like the songs, since they were all inspired by the idea of dying very soon. If the text didn’t come across, the leader of the service would point it out before every song: ‘Now this one is about the heaven you’ll all go to very soon, let’s clap!’. After a bit I realized grandpa wasn’t in the middle of an intensive prayer, but sleeping. We took him away, as the service started the third round of singing.

I couldn’t fit it somewhere in the story, but this was typically American to me: one man wasn’t there because of age, but because of weight. He was so big, apparently he couldn’t take care of himself anymore. This made me pretty mad, to see someone throw his life away like that. I’m all for freedom and that, but I think he took too big a part of it.


10 thoughts on “Television And Church: Either Old Or Lazy Men

  1. Nederlandse verzorgingshuizen zijn ook niet zo heel anders, TV staat de hele dag aan, afgewisseld met eten en animatie (zingen, kerk, spelletjes, ed.).

  2. The going-to-heaven-soon-talk wouldn’t bother me, I don’t think. If done right, it would actually inspire, but it doesn’t sound that was the case here.

    Good ending. “It ain’t over till the fat guy sings”, they say. He took too big a bite of freedom…

    • Nobody seemed bothered by it either, I guess one is generally prepared to go when in a nursery home. I know I would be. Of course, this blog is the viewpoint of a young man with an exciting life ahead of him, I guess that’s why I noticed. Welcome around here.

  3. Wow…it’s really interesting to see an outside perspective of this country (and the randoms that inhabit it). The only place in Europe I’ve ever been is London (and that for just a short time) but I am still aware of the vast cultural differences just between the US and GB.

    I’m curious, have you ever visited a nursing home in the Netherlands? What are the differences/similarities? I recently had an up-close and personal experience with a nursing home here in Denver. My father has MS and we take care of him at home, but last year he needed an intensive treatment of antibiotics that could only be administered in a medical setting; which meant we had to admit him to a nursing home for a week while he underwent treatment. My experience was very similar to yours and, while the staff were nice, I wanted nothing more than to get my dad out of there as quickly as possible.

    It was almost a different world, but when I look at it from your perspective I can see now how very typically American it was. Unfortunately, in my country, age is not respected. Neither is intelligence. The “typical” thought being that if you’re not benifiting me, I’ll put you aside. It’s consumer driven and it’s depressing…what makes a nursing home so uncomfortable is how blatant that message is. I can see that you understand we aren’t all like this, it’s just unfortunate that the majority is.

    Sorry for writing a blog here, but your observations really struck a chord. Thank you for sharing.

    • Striking a chord that sparks such a comment feels like a big compliment to me. Thank you for that.
      First of all: I hope your dad reacted well to the antibiotics. Secondly: I have not been in a Dutch nursing home besides celebrating a birthday (where you just walk into a seperate restaurant), so I have to admit that this probably is not the post that has the fairest point of view. It’s funny how you mention the aspect of respect. I felt like that when I saw old people working too, although I feel more biased because I come from a culture that differs on those sort of things (you know, the socialism ;-)).

      • you’re welcome. Thanks for the blog.

        I must be a socialist at heart, because I totally agree with your bias. (c;

        On the other hand, I actually work with a 72 year old (tho you wouldn’t know it to look at her), but she continues to work because she likes the work. She says that she would go crazy without having a place to go to every day; so I can see a benefit there. I can’t, like you, see the benefit in an older man lifting 50lb bags. I doubt he’s working for the sheer joy of it.

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