I’ve Been Thinkin’

Beginning with Thanksgiving Day, there is an abundance of special foods, music, decorations, parties, gifts, cards and programs we can enjoy as the year draws to a close. Thanks to the traditions of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day and Three Kings Day, some people can look forward festivities that extend further, even into the new year, but, for most of us they end, cold turkey, on Christmas Day. What we all face, sooner or later, is what can feel like, regardless of the gradually lengthening days and the higher than average number of sunny winter days we usually enjoy in Connecticut, the coldest, darkest part of our annual calendar.

I recently shared the story of how two of my blankets were given to residents of a local nursing home. I can’t help but wonder how the coming weeks will pass for them. I suppose they’ll have far fewer visitors, outings and special activities, and, unless Mother Nature provides us with frequently replenished snow, a dreary view out the nursing home’s windows. (I wonder if there are any bird feeders for them to watch?)

I think I can escape any winter blahs that may be headed my way, while helping someone in the nursing home avoid a few of their own, by making a cheerful visit. If all goes as I hope it all, I’ll happily return once a week through at least the months of January and February.

I should have a list of leading questions, little conversation-starters like, “Have you always lived in Connecticut?” Google has come to my rescue by leading me to this looong list of helpful ideas!

Have any of you ever visited a total stranger in a nursing home or hospital? Please share any strategies you found helpful. I’m not shy, but awkward silences are so…  well, awkward!  :S

I think I’ll take a ripple afghan with me to crochet while we talk and I’ll offer to make them one, in their choice of colors. We can talk about their preferences and, on the next visit, I can take yarns for them to choose from. Their blanket-in-progress could return with me for the third visit and a finished blanket for the fourth. By then, hopefully, we’ll have built up enough of a rapport that any future visits will be easy breezy.

If they already know how to knit or crochet, I can easily give them supplies, or, if they want to learn how, I’d be very happy to teach them!

Playing a game of cards might be a good pastime for us, although, depending on the game, they may have to remind me of the rules!

Several web-sites mentioned leaving some memento of my visit, a reminder that I was there and that I will come again. Things like shampoo, lotion, tic-tacs and tissues with lotion are popular choices at the monthly Bingo games. Beanie Babies are a hit there too. I’ll set aside a few from last week’s haul. I can leave the deck of cards if we play. Maybe they would enjoy playing solitaire or want to grab a game with someone else.

I like the idea of bringing them a 2012 calendar. At the end of each visit I can mark when I’ll be coming again, so they’ll know we have a definite “date”. Hopefully, our visits will become something we both look forward to.

There now, since I’ve written out my intention and shared it with all of you, I’m much more likely to go visit someone!! Thanks for “listening”. 🙂

Linda @ alottastitches

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4 Responses to I’ve Been Thinkin’

  1. psmflowerlady/Tammy says:

    Wow – what a great idea! What about bringing music to play during your visit? That’s always a good conversation starter too. What they liked to listen to, dance to, etc. If you have an ipod, I bet you could download for free lots of music from the era of their interest. Pets. I have some older friends/family in assisted living and we always enjoy conversations started by me asking them for advice on how to do something or inquiring how it was done when they were doing whatever (ie canning, pet training, etc.). So many of the elderly seem to have a wealth of knowledge and experience that they are so happy to share to help someone and really feel better contributing rather than just talking about themselves. And that really can lead to more of a “conversation/dialogue”. Just some thoughts. I’ll have to check your link, maybe I’ve repeated some you’ve already listed. Let us know how it goes – it seems like a great idea.

    • Music is an excellent idea, Tammy! I know I have some Big Band and Classical CDs I can take for a start. Then find out what appeals to them to download for future visits.

      They have a kitchen where we could make something together – if they’re physically able.

      I thought some of the topics on that link list could be emotional land-mines; best to skip those for now.

  2. gemiwing says:

    What a lovely idea!

    I’ve had mixed reactions in going to and helping out at nursing homes. It depends on the residents and the type of nursing facility. Knowing the schedule of the home is important- I’ve had people jump up and run away from me once they realized it was movie time! Also, if there is a lock-down facility for alzie folks, then of course, what they are able to do is much more specific. The calendar idea is good- I would look to have the staff add it to the main calendar for the floor/unit.

    I love the idea of a crochet/fiber arts group- that’s getting many birds with one stone. Everyone feeling helpful (perhaps the items could be donated to charity) and having a brain-work activity to boot!

    I’m painfully shy so my conversations were usually started by the residents themselves lol There’s usually a welcome wagon crew to greet new people. I suppose the biggest thing I learned is that old folks are just like young folks who are all the same as mid-age folks. Just folks. I thought old people listened to the same music, liked the same shows etc. It was a big milestone in my growing up that I realized the elderly can’t be easily classified into one group; learned me that everyone’s individual no matter age or circumstance.

    Sorry for rambling! It’s late/early here and I could use some coffee I bet! I’m excited for you to go and wing it – I bet you’ll have an amazing time!

    • Great ideas gemiwing. Thank You!

      re: schedule – I visited the nursing home’s web site, but all they list there is general visiting hours. I’m thinking about calling before I go and see if I can get a little more information.

      re: fiber arts group – The charity I donate my blankets to also has a “Squares of Care” program. Some people make eight inch blocks, while others join them to make blankets.

      re: old folks – Hitting middle-age has made me more aware of ageism, the tendency to categorize people by their age, instead of appreciating their individuality. It hits me both ways now, I can be labelled “old” and I can label everyone under 35 as “young”!!

      No need to apologize for “rambling” here! Thanks again for your thoughtful contribution.

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