Special Connections Make Life Wonderful!

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Our relationships are what make our lives worth living. Spending time with special people or even special critters can make all the difference in the lives of the elderly and ours as well. Thank goodness today we have innovative thinkers who are willing to reach outside a nursing home and create places that put older people in touch with young people and sometimes animals who give them just what they need — time and love!

Young and Old Connections

My parents have been going to the same church for decades and so they’ve watched some of the young people grow up from the time they were born. It always thrills my mama when one of them comes up to talk to her. Their hugs and concern make my mother so very happy. My mother said last Sunday that an young man started talking to my daddy. He told him how much he missed my daddy cutting his hair at the old barber shop. It was a small thing, but just the time that young man took to talk to my dad and tell him how much he’s appreciated him over the years brought a lot of joy to both my parents.

It’s just a fact that older folks love spending time with the young. While looking through Facebook, I saw an article about a Dutch nursing home where area college students can spend 30 hours a week with a resident and receive free room and board. It has been a huge hit for the students and the residents. The students read to them and talk to them. Some of them teach the elders to use the internet or other tech devices. These interactions between elders and students have alleviated much of the elders’ feelings of loneliness and isolation. The time taken to read poetry has connected those elders to sonnets of long ago. Some of the elders can help the students with their foreign language skills. Over 500 elders have been reached and half of those suffered from dementia.

I’ve read of some communities combining their adult day care facilities with preschool classes and child care. Both the elders and the children look forward to their time together. Some of these elders are the only “grandparents” they’ve ever known.

Critters Are for Loving!

This story was on the Country Living website and features a memory care home that began to help a local animal care facility with abandoned kittens. The animal care center did not have enough volunteers or resources to give these kittens the round-the-clock care they needed. But the seniors had plenty of time. Every two hours these kittens were bottle fed and the elders felt needed and loved. In just a few weeks, the kittens’ weight had doubled and so had the number of smiles on the faces of the elders.

Rebecca Hamilton, the memory care home’s health services former director said it best: “Loss of memory does not erase the ability to love — that’s really hardwired,”

(This article was updated June, 2024 since it originally published in February, 2017.)

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