Book Review: I’m Still Here

still-hereI first came across I’m Still Here: A New Philosophy of Alzheimer’s Care by John Zeisel at Lisa’s review here. One of the main points she discusses there, of not “testing” the person with Alzheimer’s (Do you know who I am? Who this is? Do you remember…) but rather giving them the information they need first hand (Hi Mom, it’s your daughter, Barbara, and this is your grandson, Jesse. We’ve come to visit you today) was so simple and practical and yet so good and helpful, I wanted to read the rest of the book. My own mother-in-law in our home does not have Alzheimer’s, but she has had bouts of dementia, and I thought some of the general information about aging might be helpful as well as the specifics about dementia.

One of the overriding themes of the book is to concentrate not so much on what the person has lost, but to deal with what they have now. “Those living with Alzheimer’s who use parts of their brains that still function well, feel enabled and competent, and are less apathetic, agitated, anxious, and aggressive” (p. 9). Those last four “A’s,” he says, are not so much symptoms of the disease itself but rather reactions or results that can be minimized.

Another theme would be to “discard old expectations and role relationships that limit our ability to see the person and relate to him or her in a new way” (p. 11).

Another would be that Alzheimer’s is more complex than just short term memory loss. For instance, a patient “doesn’t ‘forget’ how to get dressed or brush his teeth; it is just more difficult to put all the steps in the right order for multistage activities” (p. 70). Likewise, socially, it’s not so much that they “forget” how to act, but rather “losing control over naturally occurring feelings” (p. 71).

The author discusses the medical aspects of Alzheimer’s, which parts of the brain are affected and which still work well but may need help to be accessed, and gives multitudes of ways to help access that part of the brain and reduce some of the negative reactions. So many of these are so helpful and practical, such as the supplying of information rather than asking questions I mentioned earlier, or the birthday party he described for a person who angered easily. He suggested having it in a dining room, so the setting helps the person know what is expected (rather than a living room or community room where they don’t know what to expect), seating them next to a grandchild, which “evokes hardwired caring instincts,” and having everyone wear name tags (pp. 71-73).

One chapter dealt with arranging living spaces to facilitate patients’ movement and avoid problems. One good idea was “landmarks located at points where a decision must be made, such as a corner or a doorway.” Another was “camouflaged exits.” This was a big problem at one facility my mother-in-law was in. The main doorway was set off by a hall, making it so the workers couldn’t see it unless they walked that way. A lot of the residents accumulated at the doorway, making it hard for visitor to get in and out (in fact, I got scolded once for letting a resident out, but I didn’t know she was a resident. Visitors shouldn’t be expected to police the doorways). Another tip here would have helped this facility: have walkways that are safe and go somewhere, so the patient walks instead of wanders (p. 145). This particular place had no place for patients to “go” – they just had hallways to rooms and a big sitting area, and the aides tried to herd everyone in the sitting area to sit brain dead and silent in front of a TV to keep them under control and out of trouble (as you can surmise, I do not have good feelings or memories of this place). By contrast, the first facility she was in had walking paths that made a circle through the building (she was still using a walker then, and when my husband visited, they would “take a walk” around the circle). They also had a nice screened-in porch (without a door to the outdoors) so residents could enjoy the weather and view and fresh air and still be safe. “The hormone oxytocin is released in the brain when people feel safe. This in turn contributes to lower stress and to greater trust and sociability” (p. 138), so setting up an atmosphere as safe and wired for success as possible helps.

The author asserts that one area of the brain that still works well is creativity, and he spends a good portion of the book discussing the use of the various arts. My first thought was that that would not have been helpful with my husband’s mother, as she was never one for museums or art galleries or plays and such. But as he presented it, I saw ways they might have been useful earlier in her life, though I can imagine she would not have been excited about a trip to the museum at first. But many might find these tips helpful. I did appreciate some of the helpful, thoughtful tips scattered throughout this section, like not asking “What does this painting represent,” but rather asking a specific question about something in it, explaining why they were in the museum or gallery without being asked, not asking them what they saw a half-hour ago, not pursuing a line of conversation if they get anxious, and others (pp. 96-97). Some of these would translate well to other excursions.

One of the most valuable sections is on communicating with a person with Alzheimer’s. The author puts forth these rules and elaborates on them:

  • Hear and respond to the other person’s “reality.” Don’t try to talk them out of it.
  • Be honest.
  • Always address the person directly.
  • Don’t test (as discussed in the first paragraph).
  • Don’t say “don’t”; divert and redirect instead.

A few other important points:

It’s not right to think of Alzheimer patients as entering their “second childhood.” They have knowledge and life experience children don’t have (p. 10).

“Be sure to ask the person with Alzheimer’s for expressions of emotions rather than cognitive data. Ask how they feel about a topic, not who was there a little while ago, or someone’s name” (p. 190).

When moving someone with Alzheimer’s into a new living situation, don’t buy all new things for them or their room (p. 185). Make sure they are surrounded by familiar items, clothes, wall decorations, etc.

I admit near the end I got a little frustrated, because it seemed as if the author were saying that if we just did all of these things, everything would work out fine and Alzheimer’s would be a beautiful and rewarding experience, and I know from many friends experiencing this with loved ones that it is not that way, no matter what you do. But he does advocate, in a section on caring for yourself as a caregiver, having someone you can safely “vent” to, to “pour out your heart with all its anguish and fear” and share “the ‘terrible’ feelings you have” (p. 213). It helped to see this admission that there will still be those times. These tips won’t eliminate every difficulty with Alzheimer’s, but they will help in many ways.

There were a few places I disagreed with him. In one place discussing different types of health care and aid available, he mentions nursing homes as an option as if one can just choose and make arrangements to go there. I don’t know how it works in other states, but here, it’s pretty much impossible to get into one unless you’re coming from a hospitalization. One social worker said she could put us on a waiting list, but they almost never admit someone from a waiting list because they have so many admitted from the hospital (much of this due to Medicare regulations). A few pages later he mentions staff members in both assisted living facilities and nursing homes “who want to work there because they have a natural empathy with elders living with Alzheimer’s” (p. 206). As much as we would hope so and like to think so, that is just not the case (I could tell you stories….). Maybe they started out that way but got burned out, I don’t know. Finally, there is a New Age-y/Zen/Buddhist feel to parts of the book, culminating in a chapter on mindfulness meditation that I would personally be uncomfortable with and even find harmful.

But the strength of the book, and what I appreciated most about it, is the gracious and thoughtful approach to communicating with and dealing with those with Alzheimer’s that permeates every facet of the book.

Genre: Non-fiction
al objectionable elements: Buddhist-type philosophies
My rating: For what I mentioned in the last paragraph, I’d give it a 10 out of 10, but due to some of the philosophical differences, overall I think I’d give it a 7 out of 10.


What’s On Your Nightstand: October 2016

What's On Your NightstandThe folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand? the last Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.

This is one of those odd months when there is still almost a week left after the last Tuesday, but I guess that will make next month’s reading look all the better with the extra week. :)  October seems to have flown by, but I’ve had some great times reading here and there.

Since last time I have completed:

Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, reviewed here. Mixed emotions on this one: some good things, some I didn’t agree with.

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate, audiobook, reviewed here. A mom of a teenager and an 8 year old escapes from an abusive relationship to start a new life and is asked to clean the house of a neighbor who has passed away. In doing so, she finds boxes of prayers the women had written out to God and is impacted by her life. Drags a little in places but in others it’s wonderful.

Five Brides by Eva Marie Everson, reviewed here. Five roommates in the early 1950s pool their resources to buy a beautiful wedding dress, and this traces the pathways of each of them. Not my favorite of her books, but a pleasant read.

I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb, reviewed here. Fascinating.

Knowable Word: Helping Ordinary People Learn to Study the Bible by Peter Krol, reviewed here. Very good.

The Loveliness of Christ from the letters of Samuel Rutherford, reviewed here. Excellent.

I’m currently reading:

I’m Still Here: A New Philosophy of Alzheimer’s Care by John Zeisel

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner. A real page-turner!

The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson

Up Next:

June Bug by Chris Fabry

Waiting For Peter by Elizabeth Musser

Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World by Carolyn McCulley

As usual, I have stacks both on my shelves and in my Kindle app to choose from after these.

What are you reading?



Book Review: The Loveliness of Christ

loveliness-of-christPuritan Samuel Rutherford’s writings were the inspiration for one of my favorite hymns (“The Sands of Time Are Sinking“) and he’s the author of one of my favorite quotes, but I had never read anything else from him. So when The Loveliness of Christ came through on a 99 cent Kindle sale last week, I decided to give it a try.

I was disappointed that the selections weren’t essays or letters (except for a few letters at the very end): rather, the book is mainly a selection of quotes gleaned from Rutherford’s letters. The writing is a little hard to understand in places, but there are some gold nuggets here.

After a brief biography of Rutherford, the quotes are listed. I am not sure if they are in random of chronological order: except for the full-length letters at the end, we don’t know to whom or when they were written.

Here are some that most spoke to me:

You will not get leave to steal quietly to heaven, in Christ’s company, without a conflict and a cross.

Christ’s cross is such a burden as sails are to a ship or wings are to a bird.

Let our Lord’s sweet hand square us and hammer us, and strike off the knots of pride, self-love and world-worship and infidelity, that He may make us stones and pillars in his Father’s house.

The devil is but God’s master fencer, to teach us to handle our weapons.

They are not lost to you that are laid up in Christ’s treasury in heaven. At the resurrection ye shall meet with them: there they are, sent before but not sent away. Your Lord loveth you, who is homely to take and give, borrow and lend.

O, what I owe to the file, to the hammer, to the furnace of my Lord Jesus!

Why should I start at the plow of my Lord, that maketh deep furrows on my soul? I know He is no idle husbandman, He purposeth a crop.

How sweet a thing were it for us to learn to make our burdens light by framing our hearts to the burden, and making our Lord’s will a law.

Our fair morning is at hand, the day-star is near the rising, and we are not many miles from home. What does it matter if we are mistreated in the smoky inns of this miserable life? We are not to stay here, and we will be dearly welcomed by Him to whom we go.

When we shall come home and enter to the possession of our Brother’s fair kingdom, and when our heads shall find the weight of the eternal crown of glory, and when we shall look back to pains and sufferings; then shall we see life and sorrow to be less than one step or stride from a prison to glory; and that our little inch of time – suffering is not worthy of our first night’s welcome home to heaven.

Let not the Lord’s dealings seems harsh, rough, or unfatherly, because it is unpleasant. When the Lord’s blessed will bloweth cross your desires, it is best in humility to strike sail to him and to be willing to be laid any way our Lord pleaseth: it is a point of denial of yourself, to be as if ye had not a will, but had made a free disposition of it to God, and had sold it over to him; and to make of his will for your own is both true holiness, and your ease and peace.

Welcome, welcome, Jesus, what way soever Thou come, if we can get a sight of Thee! And sure I am, it is better to be sick, providing Christ come to the bedside and draw by the curtains, and say, “Courage, I am Thy salvation,” than to enjoy health, being lusty and strong, and never to be visited of God.

Faith liveth and spendeth upon our Captain’s charges, who is able to pay for all.

Glorify the Lord in your sufferings, and take his banner of love, and spread it over you. Others will follow you, if they see you strong in the Lord; their courage shall take life from your Christian carriage.

Ye may yourself ebb and flow, rise and fall, wax and wane; but your Lord is this day as he was yesterday; and it is your comfort that your salvation is not rolled upon wheels of your own making, neither have ye to do with a Christ of your own shaping.

If Christ Jesus be the period, the end and lodging-home, at the end of your journey, there is no fear, ye go to a friend…ye may look death in the face with joy.

My Lord Jesus hath fully recompensed my sadness with His joys, my losses with His own presence. I find it a sweet an a rich thing to exchange my sorrows with Christ’s joys, my afflictions with that sweet peace I have with Himself.

The favorite quote I mentioned at the beginning was here only in part: I had seen it in one of Amy Carmichael’s writings as having been a comfort to her when one of the children at her compound died. It was written by Rutherford to someone who had lost a child. The larger quote is “Ye have lost a child: nay she is not lost to you who is found to Christ. She is not sent away, but only sent before, like unto a star, which going out of our sight doth not die and vanish, but shineth in another hemisphere. We see her not, yet she doth shine in another country. If her glass was but a short hour, what she wanteth of time that she hath gotten of eternity; and ye have to rejoice that ye have now some plenishing up in heaven.”

As a collection of quotes, some quite thought-provoking and others requiring thought to process, it seemed to work best to read a few a day rather than trying to take in a lot at one sitting. Even doing that, though, it only took about a week to read.

As you can see from the sampling of quotes here, some of the themes of Rutherford’s writing include the goodness of God in the face of any circumstances, His ability to use those circumstances to shape us, the joy of Christ in this life but especially in the life to come.

I’m glad I spent time with this little book and I’m sure I will again in the future. I’m even inspired to go on to the fuller Letters of Samuel Rutherford some day.

Genre: Christian non-fiction
al objectionable elements: None
My rating: 10 out of 10



Laudable Linkage

Here is some good reading for this fine October day:

We Die a Thousand Ways in Love. “If God himself was willing, in love, to wash even feet, why would we refuse to lower ourselves, in love, for one another? Christian love sets aside social status, cultural norms, and the comfort of convenience to joyfully meet the inconvenient needs of others.”

Is It Love If I Don’t Feel It?

An Illustration of Repentance. I found this very helpful.

6 Ways to Transform Your Reading of the Gospels.

5 Ways Persecution in Iran Has Backfired. No one welcomes persecution, but when it comes it’s so great to see how God’s work goes on and even flourishes.

Meet the Perfect Parent and Perfect Child.

Real Life Is Edgy discusses the ongoing arguments about whether Christian fiction should include certain objectionable words, scenes, etc. in order to accurately promote “real” life.

And these graphics from Pinterest describe me well and made me smile:

spontaneityscratchblanketHappy Saturday!

Friday’s Fave Five

FFF delicate leavesIt’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

We’re just zooming right through this month, aren’t we? Here are some favorite parts of the last week:

1. Generosity of my son and daughter-in-law who made dinner twice this week and brought me flowers and my husband chocolate-covered peanuts plus a card from Timothy.



2. A Little Casar’s pizza place with a drive-through. For various reason’s we don’t like them for dinner but think they are perfect for after church on Sunday nights, and there is one on our route now with a drive-through window.🙂

3. A whole weekend without cooking. Between the first two entries here and then my husband getting McAlister’s Deli for lunch Sunday, I had the weekend almost completely “off” in the kitchen.

4. Fall color. If it’s not at its peak, it’s pretty close to it. Sometimes it goes by pretty quickly but this year it seems to be taking its time, and I love it. I love seeing how our neighbor’s tree in particular looks every morning and wish I had taken a photo of it day by day for comparison.

5. Two favorite foods. I’ve mentioned both of these before, but it’s ok to be thankful for them again.🙂 One of my favorite things to do with leftover meatloaf is to make a grilled cheese sandwich with the slices for lunch. Kind of like a patty melt you can find in some restaurants but without the droopy onions.


Then I also made Choco-Peanut Butter Dreams (recipe here).


They’re not specifically fallish but I tend to want them in the fall. So Mittu would have a gluten-free option, I also made Quick Peanut Butter Cookies (recipe on the same link as the other) except instead of drop cookies, I put dough in mini cupcake pans and then after taking them out of the oven, I placed a mini Reese’s peanut butter cup in the dough and then let them cool. After this and making cookies a week or two ago, I decided I need to lay off the cookie baking for a while – it’s too easy to grab a couple off and on through the day. But they were good while they lasted!

Hope you’re having a wonderful Friday!


Book Review: Five Brides

five-bridesFive Brides by Eva Marie Everson tells the story of five different women who come together to share an apartment in Chicago in the early 1950s. Their different work schedules and social lives leave them with little time for interaction, but one rare Saturday when they are all free, they decide to go shopping in town. They’re not shopping for a wedding dress, but they see one in a shop window that stops them in their tracks. Just for fun they decide to go in and try it on. By the time they’re done, they decide to pool their resources and buy the dress together so each of them can wear it. One girl will store it and send it to the one getting married, and each bride will have it cleaned and send it back to the girl who is storing it. The last bride gets to keep it.

The five girls:

Betty is from a rich family in Chicago who is pressuring her to marry a man she doesn’t love.

Joan immigrated from England to meet up with her pen pal, Evelyn, to live and work in Chicago. She’s working multiple jobs to send money back home and has no time for or interest in dating…yet.

Evelyn’s father is a Georgia farmer, and she is more or less expected to marry another farmer, but she wants something more from life.

Inga is breaking free from a very strict Lutheran home in Minnesota. She finds a job as a stewardess and a boyfriend in LA, but is going after her ambitions in the wrong way.

Madga is Inga’s bookish sister, who finds a job in a publishing firm and has secret aspirations of writing her own book one day.

I didn’t realize, until I got to the author’s note at the end of the book, that this was based on a true incident (it was mentioned in the acknowledgements at the beginning, but it didn’t click as I read the story). Joan’s story was factual, and while the other girls were made up, Joan really did buy the dress with four other roommates, and each of them wore the dress.

Overall it was an enjoyable story. I liked the era: you don’t see much fiction written in this time following recovery from WWII. I don’t often read romances, but it was fun to follow the girls’ different journeys and see how things worked out for them. With their bosses, coworkers, love interests, friends, and families, it was a little hard sometimes to keep up with who was whom, but usually it just took a second to get oriented when the scene or point of view changed.

The girls all live together in the first part of the book, but in the latter part they are scattered. The first one marries and goes to live with her husband, one goes to work overseas, one goes home brokenhearted, one goes home under a cloud, and the fifth stays in Chicago but has to find a different place. It seemed to me that after they separated, the story splintered and felt a little rushed at the end. We didn’t see one of the girl’s weddings, though the others’ were described, but we did see her legacy, so I guess that offset it. One of the girls whose marriage started out with the most problems is not heard from much again after the wedding: she was the one I most wondered whether everything worked out for her.

This is not a big deal, but one thing that I found irksome was how often the author referred to people pointing – some 67 0r so times, and often in situations where I would find it odd for people to be pointing. Maybe she is just more demonstrative than anyone else I know. As I said, not a big deal, but once I noticed it, it began to grate every time I’d see it again.

I would call this inspirational fiction rather than Christian fiction. The girls are from a variety of religious backgrounds, some more devout than others, and I wouldn’t quite agree with everything in that department in the book, but it is probably historically accurate.

There are others of Eva’s books I have enjoyed much more than this one, but it’s a nice story with clean romances.

Genre: Inspirational fiction
Potential objectionable elements: An unwed pregnancy, but details are not explicit.
My rating: 6 out of 10

(Sharing at Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)



The Introvert in Assisted Living

img_1894One of the things that stood out to me in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain was just how much society is set up for the extrovert, from schools to businesses. I don’t know if she mentioned assisted living facilities or nursing homes, but I found that they, too, were developed primarily with extroverts in mind.

Most activities at the facilities my mother-in-law has been in involved  trying to get everyone together in the common room for some event or performer. We’d get a calendar of events every month, filled with exercise classes, bingo, craft times, magicians, movie nights, and various groups coming to sing. I’m sure many of the residents loved a lot of those opportunities.

My mother-in-law was always content with a small circle of friends. She never drove. Her husband got groceries and ran most errands. She enjoyed going to church and helping with Awanas there until she couldn’t hear well enough to continue. A big portion of her dislike of getting together in large groups had to do with her hearing. She has worn hearing aids in all the nearly 40 years I have known her, and she told me once that in crowds, the aids magnified everything, so it was not only hard to pick out the voice of the person you were talking to, but it was unnerving that everything was so loud (they may have improved on that aspect now – I’m not sure). But even besides the hearing issues, she preferred home to just about anywhere else. They loved to go visit family or a handful of close friends, or go and get wood in the hills for their wood stove. She didn’t have many hobbies besides reading, her favorite activity when her work was done. She and her husband loved to watch the Atlanta Braves baseball games together and tinker in their garden or around the house.

One of our reasons (not the main one) for having her in assisted living rather than in our home was so that her world wouldn’t be reduced to just us. But when any of the aides asked if she’d like to come for whatever was going on down in the common room, she’d politely say no, she’d like to just stay in her room and read her book. Occasionally they could get her to if they didn’t ask, “Would you like to…” but rather just said, “It’s time for…” If they started helping her out the door for something that she seemed to be expected to do, she wouldn’t protest, though she didn’t like it (you do have to be careful of that kind of thing, though, so that you’re not running roughshod over their wishes). But once when I walked in and she was out with the others listening to a church group, she couldn’t understand what they said when they were talking, but she could get enough of the melody of old familiar hymns that she could sing along.

Once when I was trying to encourage her to participate more and telling her it would be good to get out of her room sometimes, she said, ” I DO get out of my room three times a day for meals!” Residents had to go to the common room for meals and sit at a table with two or three others (unless they were sick, and then a tray was taken to their room). And I thought, that’s true, and that’s quite a lot of social interaction compared to her life before assisted living. So I didn’t urge her that way any more.

She enjoyed coming with us to my son’s basketball games and to our home and church. We would take her out to eat with us sometimes, and I could tell she was tense and not entirely comfortable, but as long as we ordered for her (so she wouldn’t have to) and stayed close, she was fine.

Now, of course, with her decline over the years, her lack of mobility and speaking, about the only place she goes is outside occasionally in her wheelchair.

I know it was more cost effective and needed fewer workers to do things as a group rather than have one-on-one activities. There were just a few individual activities they did that worked well. A couple of the places would bring in therapy dogs and take them to individual rooms for residents to pet and interact with for a short time. She always had pets until assisted living, so I think she enjoyed that. One activity director would come to her room and paint her fingernails. I don’t think she ever painted her fingernails in her life before that, so I never knew quite what she thought about that one. But at least it was one-on-one.

My husband and I often thought that someone could make a business out of being a personal trainer in those kinds of facilities. My mother-in-law was under a physical therapist’s care at different times, but eventually their time with a patient comes to an end, and they leave them with a list of exercises. My mother-in-law never did the exercises on her own and didn’t want to go down to the group exercise classes, but she would work with the physical therapist (as she declined, she needed my husband to be there for the first few sessions so they could learn to communicate with each other. He was from Croatia, and she couldn’t understand him, so he thought she was just being uncooperative, and she didn’t really care if he came back or not.:-/ But after just a few visits with my husband there to interpret for her and urge her on, and showing the therapist how to communicate with her, they got along quite well.) We didn’t want our own visits with her to be all about exercising, so it would have been nice if there was someone on staff, or even someone who worked with different facilities, to come in and help people with their exercises.

One lady who used to visit my mother-in-law used to read and discuss with her parts of the Reader’s Digest, her favorite magazine. Nowadays, visitors often read a part of the Bible to her, valuable since she can’t read for herself any more (it’s important to remember if you are reading to someone with hearing problems that you stand or sit where they can see you clearly and speak loudly). Other one-on-one activities that we’ve done and others could do are taking her outside (one facility had a lovely screened in porch) for a change of venue, looking through pictures or photo albums with her (people love to talk about their families), or show her things on the computer. Sometimes when we had her over for a meal, my husband would show her some of the family members’ Facebook pages, or use Google Earth to see some of the places where they used to live. We talked some about her life before I knew her (I discovered she had been the editor of her high school newspaper!), but I wish I had done that more and then written it down. I also wish I had come up with some bit of interesting news or information to share with her. Often our conversations would start out with, “Well, what’s new?” And I’d reply, “Well, not much.” When you visit someone almost every day there is really not much new every visit. I did share family and church news and sometimes current events, but I wish on those days when I didn’t have anything new to share that I had taken the time to look up or come up with something she’d find interesting. I also wish I had put some of her old photos in a scrapbook with her, not just for the activity, but to hear more about the people in them.

Although my mother-in-law would not have had the dexterity or interest in these, some might enjoy games or puzzles (although she did enjoy Scrabble sometimes at our home. We had to take it very slowly and she’d argue with us about words like “qi” and “xi.”🙂 ). Some might even enjoy some of the group activities if they have a companion they know to go with them, at least the first few times.

The biggest help, though, both in any facility or in our home now, is just visiting with her personally. At different times over the years different individuals from our church would take it upon themselves to just go see her. Sometimes different groups within the church or community would make something for residents and bring it to their rooms, and that was nice, but really, the main help was just a short time of personal conversation and interaction.

When I was in college, one of the ministry groups I participated in for a couple of years was a “foster grandparent” program. There were other groups from college who would do Sunday morning and week night services at a nursing home, but our group would ask for names of residents who didn’t get as many visitors, and we would each choose two and then spend Friday nights visiting those two, just to talk and get to know them. I still have fond memories of “my ladies.”

Of course, staff members do not have time to do all of these things, and some are best done by family. But for those like the activities director who only painted fingernails, ministry groups, and individual visitors, these are a few ideas of things to do with one older person rather than a group activity.

Social interaction is important to every person, but introverts prize it on a smaller and more infrequent scale, with one or two people and quieter activities. That may be a little more time- and labor-intensive than group activities, but it can be highly valuable for both sides.

For more in the Adventure in Eldercare series, click the graphic below.


(Sharing with Inspire Me Mondays)