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July 13, 1984


JAMA. 1984;252(2):221. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350020023017

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People often ask me why I keep on working in a nursing home, taking care of lonely and confused residents. Perhaps it is for the rare privilege of observing simple actions that epitomize caring.

On a sunny day, a distinguished-looking man in a business suit visits his mother, once elegant and pretty, now confused and worn. He wheels her into the courtyard, and from my window I watch him giving her a manicure, the sun bright on both of them.

I see one of our most confused and demanding residents calmed by her daughter's daily visit and their ritual game of dominoes.

A devoted husband becomes an attendant to the bride of his youth, now gray-haired and diapered. She doesn't even remember the name of her life-long companion, yet he continues to visit, tenderly caring for her. Their love is strong, bearing the test of separation and illness.

I derive