Nursing Home Love Stories: Intro and Story #1

There’s a hidden world inside each nursing home. Each center is filled with people striving to live their best lives despite age and disability. Family visitors arrive when they can to offer care and companionship. Staff members devote themselves to this work largely because of their genuine fondness for the residents.

If people would like long lives or to have a place nearby to help care for ailing loved ones, then what’s happening inside these homes is important. Each facility is a vital community resource we hope to never need.

This series of anecdotes will take readers beyond the closed doors of the nursing home and into my experiences as a long-term care psychologist. Part of my job is to fall in love with every resident I meet. Perhaps you will too. I’ll begin with a brief tale from 2008.

Love Story #1: The Twilight Years

She sat quietly in her wing chair, lost in thought. Hearing my knock and spying me standing in the doorframe, she sighed.

“You might as well come in, but I have nothing to say.”

“That’s what you tell me every week and then you talk my ear off!” I teased her.

She smiled. “That’s true.”

I took a seat and observed her more closely. Her face looked tired and drained of color.

“You seem like you’ve got a lot on your mind.”

She nodded. “It’s that Arthur. He’s come visiting again.”

She rubbed her swollen knuckles and elaborated on her pains.

“I wish Mr. Itis would leave me alone, but I guess I’ve got to live with him.” She sighed again and then looked at me brightly.

“My niece took me out to the movies this weekend!”

“Really! What did you see?”

“Well, she said it was MY day, so we went to that vampire movie, even though she’d seen it twice already.”

“Twilight?” I was surprised.

“Yes, that’s the one!” Her voice sounded chipper.

“Oh, honey, there was a scene where a couple spent the night together and afterward, that room was just torn up! I wondered what he did to her. She said she had the night of her life.”


“Oh, yes.” She paused for emphasis. “Honey, that’s my MAN!”

We both laughed out loud.

I love this job.

Eleanor Feldman Barbera, Ph.D., is a psychologist, speaker, educator and a leading expert on aging, behavioral health and caregiving.