We call them "vegetables" The person in a coma from brain trauma. The patient suffering the last stages of Alzheimer's disease. The profoundly retarded adult. These folks will most likely be found in a substandard medical facility, many restricted to bed for the remainder of their lives, to use the pejorative, "vegetating." How often do we think of these people and empathise with their situation, much less dedicate a part of our week to them? After my parents suffered and died from degenerative brain disorders, I was asked to lead as volunteer an Alzheimer's group on my Mom's old unit for 2 and 1/2 hours a week. I was familiar with the occasional odor, odd behaviour and locks letting me on the ward (and hopefully out). Pleasing these seniors is a breeze - just sing, reinforce hope and orient them to time, place and daily events; i. e., treat them as worthy individuals with personality, memories and awareness. I may have saved some lives in the process. All of us eventually will be affected by institutionalization, either as family members, underpaid and unappreciated workers, a mostly indignant society or "residents" ourselves. Who of you has bothered to visit those whom society is too ashamed to throw away, unvisited for years, yet keep out of guilt rather than duty? If you're scared, just think how they feel!