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An odd couple

February 13, 2017
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Politics may make for strange bedfellows, but that is nothing compared to the couplings that occur in long term care.

Since I have lived in nursing homes, and particularly this one, I have observed a few resident relationships. Some seem to be traditional and similar to relationships in the outside world, while others stand out as unconventional relationships of convenience.

Who would blame a male or female resident for getting attached to another resident to stave off loneliness or for a desire to be coupled? But some resident relationships are highly unusual and quite confrontational.

A case in point is a couple I will call Howard and Evelyn. Evelyn has been here for years. When I met her more than six years ago, I found her eccentrically cute. For three plus years, she and Howard, the toucher, have been an item.

I assume there is an intimate side to their relationship since Howard is fond of pawing female staff when they would rather he just move along. Though I have been lucky enough not to observe them being too cozy, I do see the two of them make wise cracks, hand gestures and sometimes even blow raspberries to each other across the dining room at mealtime.

Evelyn’s health has been declining the last few months. If Evelyn does not have to elevate her legs in bed, she spends time sitting in the dining room with Howard. After meals, they hang out at Evelyn's table. Other residents frequently join them.

Evelyn is 75, and Howard is in his late 50s. Since Howard is younger, I guess Evelyn could be considered to be a cougar. She has no family and has not seen her daughter in a long time. Howard has an elderly father whom he sometimes talks with on the phone. Frequently, Howard bemoans the fact that he no longer lives in the community. Both of them are frustrated by their situations, but Evelyn is more settled in it. Howard sometimes has outbursts and can be troublesome to the staff.

They are not the typical Valentine's Day couple, but I found it sweet to see Howard up on the hall close to Evelyn's room trying to find out how she was when she could no longer walk to the dining room.

This couple shows me that each of us like to have other people in our lives. Howard and Evelyn are probably more secure because of their atypical relationship. They both feel part of a couple and no doubt feel more included in the greater human race.

No matter your relationship status, happy Valentine's Day to you!

 

Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...

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