Delores Peich
(909) 931-2822

Senior Living Placement, Referral, & Advisory Services Completely Free.

 

NEWS SENIOR CARE

It took a village, but Senior Santa’s changed a little piece of our world on Saturday!

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About a month ago, a friend gave me the idea to ‘adopt’ an assisted living community for the holidays, perhaps one where the residents don’t get a lot of visitors. I put a few phone calls in to places I was familiar with, and immediately received a call for help. Coincidentally, it was the same community my mother had lived at for ten years. I couldn’t say no to their request.

 

In this particular community, Heritage Gardens in Upland (an Alzheimer’s and memory care home), I was informed that many of the residents had outlived their adult children, and although their rent was being paid, their necessities were often overlooked, and their souls needed some much deserved LOVE. They had even had a sock drive recently, as the residents were running low on the very thing we take for granted…socks!

What began as a simple request on Facebook to my friends, quickly took on a life of its own and an Event Page was created to manage all the questions and organize all the people who messaged me to get involved. We initially started this as a ‘blanket drive’ to provide a warm and cozy throw blanket to each of the 47 residents. Within days, donation checks came pouring into my office with cards of love and genuine care for wanting to help this community. A week later, we had purchased all the blankets and had enough money to buy a few essentials that these wonderful residents so badly needed…body wash, slipper socks, body lotion and cuddly teddy bears. If you’ve ever spent time in a memory care community, as I have, you will understand that many of these folks are ‘stuck’ in the time frame when they were young mothers, and even children. Teddy bears can provide a ‘tool’ to allow these seniors the familiar feeling of caring for ‘their own child’ or bring them back to a time when a teddy bear was their best friend and comfort when they were little.

 

We organized a ‘village’ of supporters to do a number of things: shop for blankets, buy wrapping paper, wrap 47 gifts, shop for the ‘essentials’ and coordinate the day. In my mind, I pictured a group of parents and their children who could use this opportunity as a teaching tool to show their children compassion to someone completely unfamiliar to them, in a setting that could only be described as uncomfortable for some. I was blown away at the response I received!

Last Saturday, about ten adults and 8 children arrived at Heritage Gardens, and I nervously prepared ‘my speech’ to the children about what they could expect. I used the words they could understand, and explained to them that the people inside were old, quiet, sad, and that many were grandparents who needed to be loved by children, as their grandkids weren’t able to visit them very often. To my surprise, not one of these kids seemed nervous. The instinctively ‘got’ what I was trying to explain to them, and I can only assume their loving parents had also ‘prepped’ them for what they might see. This was also a big leap for me, as I was feeling nervous about returning to the place my mother lived for ten years, and died at last year. I had so many mixed emotions about how I would feel walking through those doors and worried I wouldn’t be the ‘calm example’ I was trying to be for these kids. To my surprise, I was calm! My next concern was that when we walked in the doors there might be uncertainty and chaos, but to my surprise, everyone seemed to know exactly what to do. Within minutes, I witnessed adults seated next to residents, talking to them, offering hugs and helping them open their gifts! With the majority of the gifts passed out in literally 15 minutes, I wondered what we would do next. I shouldn’t have worried! As I looked around the room, I was overjoyed to see ALL the adults seated next to residents, holding their hands, rubbing shoulders, talking about what to name their ‘prized’ teddy bears, pouring hot cocoa, offering cookies, talking about their lives, and learning their names. Lots of photos were taken, the residents wearing huge smiles, while a woman on piano played Christmas songs. It was a beautiful sight. This went on for over an hour, when the director of the community actually had to gingerly let us know that we would have to leave, as lunch was beginning to start and the residents needed to get to their seats for their meal. I believe this was healing not only for the residents, but also for us, as many of us either have parents or grandparents in this stage of life, or we have recently lost a loved one who was in this situation. This is a day I will remember for the rest of my life and with the support and encouragement of my friends who were there, it was suggested we get together to do this on a regular basis! My next endeavor will be a warm summer BBQ out in their front yard, complete with lunch and more essentials they will undoubtedly need six months from now!

This was a day that came to fruition completely because of the love and support of my friends, coworkers and even people I barely know! This has restored my faith in people, who will go out of their way to help the helpless, without expecting a thing in return. I am in awe of all the people who jumped right in to help, and have a deep appreciation and love for each and every one of you!

Please know, your time, money and effort meant SO much to these 47 residents, and you have done a great thing for the greater good. I love you all!

Laura

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