Spending quality time with residents is very rewarding, and some of my favorite experiences have happened when I accompanied residents to the county fair.
The fair gets residents to think back to memories from their own lives, whether it’s something they raised in the garden or something they entered in a sewing contest. One gentleman told me he raised sheep and was able to go to the Minnesota State Fair and show his sheep there, and he was very proud of that. I helped a woman ride the Ferris Wheel for the first time, and I can still remember the expression on her face.
Residents love eating lunch at the fair, especially that piece of cherry, apple, or pumpkin pie. For residents who couldn’t get to the county fair this year, fair food was brought in for them to taste. Residents told me there was too much food for them to eat alone and they had to share with somebody.
Besides fairs or parades, there are lots of other ways to spend time with elderly loved ones. For the Fourth of July, we have taken residents to the lake where we sit and watch fireworks and hear lots of “oohs” and “aahs.” Here in Fairmont, we have very nice parks close to the water, with shelters and sidewalks and handicap-accessible restrooms. Watching the sun rise or set, feeling the breeze by the lake and feeding the ducks are other pleasures to share together.
Sometimes it’s hard for elderly loved ones to travel. You can come for a visit and bring photos or memory albums. You could even bring a “then-and-now” type scrapbook that shows how things have changed over time, like how farming, gardening, sewing or baking has changed from past to present.
We have to take time to spend time with the elderly because that’s how they are able to teach the next generations and share their life experiences. That’s the way we learn from each other—by doing things together.
Mike Maday is a Care Manager at Lakeview Methodist Healthcare Center in Fairmont, Minnesota.