“I am lost”

The Sisters of the community “des Tatras”, in Rennes, France, share their experience of accompanying an elderly neighbour.

 

For many years now, a community of the Daughters of Jesus has lived in a house in the neighbourhood of Le Blosne in South Rennes. The Sisters are close to the neighbours and pay particular attention to Isabelle*, an elderly woman who is gradually losing her memory.

*The name of the lady concerned has been changed to protect her identity.

 

 

 

A solitude encountered

 

Isabelle will be 93 this year. Don’t ask her how old she is, she doesn’t know, but she will tell you: “I was born on 11 October 1928“. Widowed some time ago, she lost her only son about four years ago. The son was handicapped, and the Sisters visited him regularly. Isabelle is therefore alone now. Two nieces look after her, but they live at a distance from her. Shy by nature, Isabelle has little contact with her neighbours and has no friends. She often says to us: “I only have you“. In reality, the immediate neighbours keep a discreet watch on her.

For a long time now, Isabelle had been going into town every day for lunch. She was known to the restaurant owners. She would then go to the shops, “Just to see people“, she said.

Loneliness made worse by confinement

 

The first confinement disturbed her. A niece asked for all her meals to be delivered to her and the same service continues today. This was a well-intentioned initiative, no doubt, but it also made her feel even more lonely. We sometimes invited her to have a meal at the community but with the confinement, and the many precautions to be taken, we no longer do this, even if we sometimes offer her a snack after a walk.

We still want to support her as much as possible. Since March 2020, Lisette, alone or with Madeleine, accompanies her almost every day for an hour’s walk on the extensive green wooded space near the house, reserved for pedestrians and cyclists. This is her sunshine for the day. Other walkers greet us, and sometimes join us.

 

An increasingly fragile memory

 

Isabelle forgets her mask, or she can’t find it. She doesn’t know where her hearing aids are, or she hasn’t changed the batteries…

She usually knows that Saturday is the day before Sunday and that we take her to Mass with us at the weekend. She comes to us to find out which Mass on the Saturday or the Sunday we will attend. One Saturday she came three times. She is extremely sensitive and apologises when she realises her mistake. She then repeats “Excuse me, I’m disturbing you“…

It’s a pity that her memory is regressing as he is still alert for her age. “It’s because I walk a lot,” she says. No doubt. She is a pleasant person, full of humour and often surprises us with her witty remarks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lesson for our lives

 

Her presence is an opportunity for us to exercise patience and an awareness of what we may be like one day. She brings out a great humility in us.

 

The Sisters of the Tatras community, Rennes, France

 

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