2017 Seniors Helping Seniors Spring Scholarship – 3rd Place Winner
Bay Alarm Medical
May 9, 2017
[Layne, was awarded Bay Alarm Medical’s 3rd place winner for the 2017 Scholarship program. She will be studying Kinesiology & Exercise Science at Campbell University.]
In 2016, I began making “busy blankets” for local nursing homes and facilities for their Alzheimer’s, dementia, and stroke patients. I make the blankets and deliver them to various facilities. While I am there, I spend time with the residents. What a blessing they are to me! The ladies love to talk about my clothes, hair, make-up, and boyfriend and the gentlemen just like to talk, period. They make me laugh and keep me on my toes! We play with the sensory items on their blankets during their activity period. Zippers, buttons, snaps, bungee cord beads, squeaky toys, and various textures keep us entertained. I also help them during their snack times.
The residents have taught me a lot about patience and empathy. Many times, geriatric residents just want someone to talk with and give them personal attention. They often repeat the same stories over and over, but I listen like I have never heard their story before. I do the same thing with my eighty-three-year-old grandparents. Working with geriatric people reminds me of putting a puzzle together with my three-year-old niece. Patience is a necessity and sometimes you just have to let them do it “their way.” I work most often with Alzheimer’s patients, so I often repeat answers. I chuckle when they ask me the same thing for the tenth time in five minutes and I have to answer them again and again. Patience and empathy, along with compassion, understanding, and sincerity, are all fundamental elements I have developed while working with seniors.
The time that I spend working with residents at the nursing home, and with my grandparents, makes me want to be my best self. They are enthusiastic when I arrive and they make me enthusiastic, they tackle their long days with an amazing gusto, and they make me want to live my life with that same passion. They appreciate anything that I do for them and they will express their gratitude over and over. This helps me to remember to be thankful for the simple things in life. Every time I leave, I feel a sense of pride for making them so happy. Active geriatric residents also inspire me by how they live their lives so openly and they make me want to be a better person. They help me to see the good in everyone and also in myself.
A desire to do for others is something we should all strive toward. I do encourage others to volunteer at local nursing homes and remind them of the cliché, “when you give of yourself, you are not only being a blessing to someone, you are receiving a blessing in return.” I find this to be very true. It is a wonderful blessing to spend time with the elderly and I am very fortunate to have my grandparents living next door to me. I encourage my peers to do little meaningful things for their grandparents (or adopt grandparents from a geriatrics home and do for them if they are not still blessed with grandparents), such as offering to do general household chores, picking a vase of flowers, or, most importantly, just sitting and talking with them and giving them their time. It means so much to them when you tell them what is going on in your life and engage them in conversations about their childhoods.
There is so much knowledge and history to be gleaned from our grandparents! It is important to spend quality time with the people who matter most in our lives; older generations relish in the social interactions, while my generation has the opportunity to broaden their horizons and experience the great feeling of being a blessing and being blessed.