Being around senior citizens is something that really makes me happy. Being able to love and serve them is my passion. As a life enrichment director I try my hardest to find ways to enrich their lives. They have given so much to our society and changed our history that I feel it is the VERY least I can do. Recently someone from my past moved into the memory care unit where I work. Through reconnecting those relationships (more about that later), I have been able to bring my residents to my elementary school and read with the second graders. These 8-10 residents afflicted with dementia get so much joy being around the youth and return home with the biggest smiles. Most of the time they do not remember an hour later that we went, BUT the joy stays with them for days. I received an email from one of the families regarding these outings (names removed for privacy!):
Good morning Laura,
I’m ******, ****’s daughter. First, I want to let you know how much I have appreciated your efforts to organize and implement the school reading program. The stories about the visits and the photos are so uplifting.
I also wanted to share one of those “circle of life” kind of things about this for me and Mom. When I was young, maybe from the ages of 8-12, Mom used to take me to the retirement home near where we lived to visit the residents and read the Bible to them. It was challenging for me at first. I had the benefit of many years with both grandparents, but some of the elders we visited were not well, or suffering from advanced dementia or were seemingly unaware of our presence.
But Mom was there with me and assured me that I was bringing love and companionship to people that might be very lonely. I learned to be more confident by reading out loud to people I didn’t know well. But most of all, I learned that giving my time and talent was valued and important.
I still remember some of the laughs and stories some of the elders shared with me. Some were reminded by me of their own experiences when they were young. For me, it was a lifelong gift to have learned at an early age to appreciate and value the lives of people in the last years of their lives. It also gave me the ability to feel comfortable with people of all ages as a young person.
Thanks so much for giving Mom the opportunity to be with the children in their classrooms, Laura. Mom loved school and just being in a classroom with the children is such a gift!
My mom, too, encouraged us to serve. Along with church groups and visits with my mom, I was exposed to seniors from a young age. I am so honored to serve this population AND to share them with the elementary school. I find a lot of children these days are afraid of old people. We are all growing old so if I can impact the future caregivers, I am glad to do so.
I am so thankful for my parents who instilled a service oriented attitude amongst our family. I feel I am a much more rounded individual because of the values they taught me. Today I am happy I am able to serve.