Today I had the pleasure of visiting the nursing home in Geneva.
I popped in to say “hi” to a former neighbor, and took a few photos of employees.
I always enjoy going to nursing homes, assisted living facilities and senior centers. Seniors have so much knowledge, obviously, but they’re also a delight to talk to.
When I worked at the library I loved my patrons, but had a soft spot for “my” seniors. The Exeter Senior Center is right across from the library, so a few people would stop at the library while they were in the neighborhood. (You know, because Exeter is so huge.)
I had a few “regulars” who just came in to chat, and one gentleman who came in to rest on his way home from the post office. During all of those chats, I learned so much and heard so many wonderful stories. One woman in particular and I bonded over needlework. She’d bring in her latest project – usually an afghan – and we’d discuss the particulars. After the Mid-Plains Fiber Fair I’d tell her about all of the cool stuff (to us, anyway) I saw.
There was a gentleman who had worked as a travelling salesman in his younger days – dealing mostly with Fenton art glass. He’d tell me all sorts of stories about his travels. We also talked a lot about gardening, too. (“That [expletive] foxtail!” he’d always say.) He had a good-sized greenhouse, and I always told him how jealous I was.
In my eight years working at the library, I got to know a lot of people – well. Over time I watched my seniors get older, sometimes a little slower. I watched dementia set into some of them, and even had a few of my seniors pass away.
I knew something was wrong when my gardening friend didn’t plant anything. I thought he’d never quit. But a few years later, he was gone.
A gentleman came in once and we talked at length about his service in the military. I told him he should write a book. Unfortunately, he never got the chance.
It’s easy to let relationships take a back burner or become stagnant. I’m far from a perfect example of a senior citizen advocate. There were times I didn’t call Grandma as much as I should. Times I just didn’t have time to talk to my seniors.
People don’t live forever. Sometimes we forget that, and don’t appreciate the people around us, understanding that while life isn’t necessarily short, it is certainly fragile.
When I get crabby I try to think of myself that even a little thing – a “hello,” a compliment, holding the door open for someone – might be the best thing that happens to that person all day. Yes, we have that power. It’s a gift all of us have. I’m not a senior citizen (yet) but I’m sure they have tough times, bad days – just on a different level than we do. Some of them might even be lonely.
Please: take the time to tell – and show – our seniors how much we care about them and appreciate them.