A nursing home can be viewed as this middle category between hospital and home and can serve a widow in a couple of different scenarios. It can be that place where they go to die. Alternatively, though weakness or sickness are present, death might not be imminent and they need a place for more extended care. Another use of a nursing home, which is the more common one, is to have a place where widows can go when they no longer can care for themselves in their home. Oftentimes, one spouse takes care of the other as old age approaches. Once that caregiver is gone, it leaves the other spouse trying to do what they so desperately want to do, but can no longer do—care for themselves alone.
A nursing home provides that twenty-four hour care for someone, yet tries to empower a person still to live as independently within that facility as is safe and responsible.
This “home away from home” set up that nursing homes provide creates particular challenges for the visitor to find that balance that makes a widow feel cared for. If someone is in a nursing home because they are close to death, then the hospital principle cited earlier would apply to your visit. However, if a nursing home is creating a more controlled living space for a relatively healthy but frail widow, then it should be treated more like a cautious home visit. Since you want to be more sensitive to the struggles of loneliness than the discomfort of physical pain and suffering, visitors should feel a freedom to stay a bit longer—twenty to thirty minutes. Since the nursing home is commonly viewed as the transition point between hospital and home, it is good to be considerate of both taking an interest in their living space as well as any health concerns that may be present.
Regardless the location, the spiritual, emotional and physical condition of the widow is most important.
The condition of the widow should dictate how long to stay and how long not to stay. It should determine what will make this widow feel loved and cared for, or what might exasperate her. As God gives you wisdom in these case by case moments, know that God can use you, even for a moment, to remove the eerie silence and minister grace to these precious ladies.