I grew up visiting grandparents in senior assisted living and nursing homes and learned early on that my visits brightened their moods. It made them smile and gave them purpose, which now as an adult I can really appreciate.
Residents of senior living centers and nursing homes are accustomed to a community within a community, one loaded with morning and evening activities, friends down the hall, and conversations together during dinner. But, their normal has changed.
Visiting hours are highly restricted (in most cases not allowed). Volunteers are kindly dismissed, and what was once routine is no longer. Infection control is heightened to a new level and some seniors (and others you may know) are feeling more isolated, lonely, and concerned each day.
It tugs on my heart, but I know the little things can brighten the day or our seniors. They love hearing stories from kids and are touched to know people care. Here’s what my family did, and yours can, too.
We called individual care facilities and confirmed their policies on mail, packages, window visits, etc. Then one day during dedicated “art time,” I explained to Gordon (2.5 years old) that we were going to send letters to people like Great-Grammy K. We talked about how they love meeting people just like he does, and right now, they aren’t seeing a lot of friends and his card would make them happy. He shouted, “That’s a great idea!”
With some help from me, Gordon wrote a letter to residents sharing things that he would have said if they stood in the hallway and chatted. We also included a colorful drawing, because who doesn’t love artwork by a two-year-old? We emailed a copy to our local senior contacts and mailed others to locations who allowed snail mail.
If a letter isn’t your thing, tear out a page from a coloring book and hand over the washable markers. Or, let your school-aged child write her own message and have your middle schooler fill out this easy Q&A. Maybe your high schooler is a talented musician and can record a video of some music, and your senior living facility contact can play the recording for some of the residents!
Sending words of encouragement and showing our seniors what this generation can do will certainly brighten their days. A friendly “Hi!” CAN make a difference.
Just remember to call your facility ahead of time and respect their policies on mail, hand delivered items, visitors, etc. And remember to wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before handling any paperwork.
How are you connecting with those who can’t be as connected? Comment below. I’d love to know.