In the east of France, not far from Besançon, in Montagney, in the department of Haute Saône, there is a nursing home where one can live in a pleasant way. This house called « Our Lady of Cedars» offers a special way of welcoming people suffering from Alzheimer.
Since May and in the time of the health emergency due to Covid 19, I was asked to go to this house to offer my service consisting in welcoming the families and hence rendering at best the encounter between the residents and their relatives, while respecting the health regulations. Experiencing a close relationship with these persons resembles a sort of departure towards the discovery of another continent where the truth of the relationship is very enriching. It’s the gratuity of the presence and of being there simply for a short time, for a certain instant and in the present moment. The Director and the personnel of the establishment are there to listen to the residents and to assure a great availability.
In this place, there is also a community of 4 Sisters of Charity. Their chief mission is to guarantee the spiritual accompaniment of the residents and to welcome their families. They try to create links between all the different families who carry and experience a suffering which needs to be expressed. Lending a listening ear to these persons is very important, because it helps them to go ahead on their path.
Quite frequently, the personnel shares also with the sisters. During the confinement, the carers needed some spiritual which helped them in their service with the residents: « Sister, pray for us! »
At Our-Lady of Cedars, there is a golden rule: « Respect towards the resident, never force the person so that you avoid putting the person in a situation of failure. » The person needs to be respected till the end of his life. The treatment is adjusted according to what the person has the right to live.
The personnel and the sisters always try to stimulate the individuals so that they could give and express the best of themselves. Times of prayer and different animations are suggested but always in agreement with the person.
The singing workshop makes it possible to bring up emotions that can be expressed by the residents
In the house, exists also the animal mediation with the rabbits, the alpacas and the tortoise Charlotte the tortoise. All these connections between the animal and the resident, help to calm and to pacify the residents’ anxieties.
This encounter with these Alzheimer’s patients and their family, is an openness of the heart which invites to humility and to listening to the small face of the suffering Christ who is present in the core of the person’s mystery.