One of my residents told me when she was a child, Santa Claus gave her an orange. She was so proud of that orange, she said, that she saved it and never ate it. Such a simple gift, yet it was so special to her.
The greatest gift you can give your aging loved ones also sounds simple—to be there for them. Truthfully, it’s not simple. I know it’s not an easy thing to make time to visit or write or call during this busy season. But take the time to go see Grandma, Grandpa, Mom, Dad, your uncle or a good friend. They love it, and it will be a lasting memory for everyone involved. There may come a time when you say, “I should have.”
If you can’t visit, residents love cards. One resident wondered if she was going to get any Christmas cards this year. She got one card and didn’t expect more—and then one day, she got six! She was clearly tickled. Having those cards and letters to read made her feel part of her family and friends. I still have cards my own granddaughter made me, and she’ll be turning 21 soon.
I always think of the holidays as a good time to embrace new life. At Lakeview Methodist, we share our building with a daycare center. Sometimes the kids walk through the building or sing songs, or make art to hang in the dining room for residents to see. The other day, we had six babies brought up from the daycare in strollers. It’s a win-win situation. Everybody benefits, from the newborns all the way up to the seniors.
Our residents love it when their families bring the little ones. You can see the branching of life, from the root all the way up to the flower. You want life to continue and you want it to grow. You want it to be everlasting. You want the love to be everlasting, and it’s the perfect time during the holidays to realize that.
Last week, some of our residents helped put up Christmas trees. Some fluffed branches and some hung ornaments, but everyone got to be involved. Soon the carolers will be coming.
Happy holidays! Enjoy your time with the seniors in your life.
Mike Maday is a Care Manager at Lakeview Methodist Healthcare Center in Fairmont, Minnesota.