I have been thinking about grandma a lot lately and wanted to repost this one that always makes me smile.
Bring Smiles to Seniors was started because of my grandmother and it will live on in her memory. Because it was started in the last year of her life, I often wondered if she ever really knew that I had done it. I told her about it and described it to her, but the mute reaction that she had to my description left me wondering if she truly knew.
On one of my visits to her, my friend Linda who has been with the program from the beginning accompanied me on my visit to her senior community in Okeechobee. We had decided that we would do a card delivery on this visit and hand out cards to the residents there. However, when we arrived and found my grandmother bright and alert that day, we came up with a much different plan that turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made.
Usually, when we have an opportunity to go into communities, we hand deliver the cards to the residents one by one. We have a little chat with them and tell them to have a wonderful day and we get to see the smiles on their faces when they open their card that has come from a complete stranger. Sometimes they can’t see well enough to read the card and we read it to them out loud and watch the brightness that comes across their face. On this visit, we got the idea to have grandma do the deliveries herself. So, we loaded her up with cards in her wheelchair, pushed her through the aisles in the community and began the most amazing journey with her.
As you can tell by now, helping people was at the very core of her being. Even in the late stage of her life that gene never left her. The smile on her face as she handed the cards to the residents gave me the answer that I was looking for. She knew what we were doing. However, not only did she know, she was a part of it. She laughed, she smiled and you could tell by the look on her face that she was in her element as she handed each resident their card.
It is so important when dealing with dementia/Alzheimer’s patients not to forget that they are still people. Treat them like they understand and give them a reason to be present. This moment was not only heartwarming and fulfilling for us, it gave her an hour of normalcy where in that point in time she was who she always was when she was at her best. From Grandma’s smile with the bag of cards in her lap at the beginning of the delivery to the high five with Linda when the delivery was finished, every moment was filled with a sense of accomplishment.
In every senior community we have visited, we have had special moments that will stay with us a lifetime. However, this visit will always be dearest because it was then that I knew that she was aware of the program and what we were doing. I believe in all my heart that she understood and at that very moment she infused Bring Smiles to Seniors with the lifeblood that will keep it going for many years to come.
If you encounter a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s this week give them a hug and let them know they are loved. Treat them as if they are still there. It will give both they and you a reason to smile.
Have a great weekend and remember to be the reason someone smiles.