Community Stories School News

Alone Together in Lauderdale County

Everybody knows that old people are hopeless with technology. And everybody knows that teenagers only think about themselves. Right? 

Well, it seems the residents of Lauderdale Christian Nursing Home and students at Lauderdale County High School didn’t get the memo. 

The news has been full of heartbreak lately. Some of the most poignant stories and images feature elderly people struggling to make contact with family members. 

We’ve also heard about high school seniors whose trips, graduations and proms have been canceled. LCHS assistant principal Casey Tate described their disappointment. 

“They were heartbroken. They were discouraged because of how their year ended, so I wanted to tell them … ‘You still have a purpose. So here’s a platform for us to serve, for us to show purpose, to show we still have meaning despite all that’s going on in our world.” 

½ x 2 = 2 x ½ 

An old saying presents some emotional arithmetic:  “Sorrow shared is sorrow halved. Joy shared is joy doubled.” 

Mr. Tate decided to put those figures to work. He brought together residents of the nursing home and his senior class students in a project called Senior to Senior. 

Clara Newton, is studying to be a nurse, so she enrolled in a training program at Lauderdale Christian Nursing Home. She missed visiting with the residents since the pandemic forced quarantines on healthcare facilities, so she pounced on the virtual visiting opportunity like a good Tiger should. 

“It makes me feel so much better,” Clara said, “… I kind of had relief like I kind of helped them, and they helped me, too, so I felt better about the situation just by talking to them.” 

Clara’s not the only one getting involved. About 30 of her classmates also Facetime with the residents. Even when there’s no quarantine on, loneliness looms as a huge problem for the elderly, so any kind gesture shines out. 

Wynell Fowler is 88 years old. She says that isolation from her family makes all the challenges of aging even more difficult. 

“It hurts not being able to see family,” she acknowledges, “but the Facetime visits really help. “People can’t see me now, so I just like the attention.”  

No Time for Fear

Clara appreciates the pressures that medical professionals face right now, but the COVID-19 pandemic can’t deter her from her chosen career. 

“Sometimes I wish I was there more than here,” she says. “Just because here, in a way, you kind of feel helpless from other people that do need help. And that’s big on my heart, to help people when they’re sick or they’re down and lift them up.” 

Learning to be a nurse involves lots of math, science, chemistry and technology, but Clara already understands the emotional component of patient care. 

“I know everyone is sad, and it’s hard not to be sad,” she observes, “But there’s always a chance to help somebody else. And I hope they take the chance.” 

So far there is no cut-off date in sight for the Senior-to-Senior project! 

About the author

Brad Hall

Brad Hall

Brad Hall is a pastor and the author of "Lousy Roger and Other Tales: A collection of Lectionary-based Sermons," available on Amazon.com. In 2014, after 27 years of courtship, he married pop culture scholar Deborah Ann Miller. They share a place with two dogs, Scotty and Demitasse, and two cats, Quirkie and Brucie.

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