I recently gave a tour to a new family considering the placement of their aunt in one of our homes. At the end of the showing, we sat and spoke about their aunt. I learned that she loves to play cards and listen to music. Shopping for the perfect gifts for birthdays and Christmas was a real joy for her. Lastly, she loved organizing and sometimes reorganizing her drawers and closets. Of course, this elevated spring to her favorite season because she relished watching the new life in her garden grow as she tackled spring cleaning.
As I looked at the niece reminiscing about her favorite aunt, I could see the love in her eyes. “She was always there for me; she was an amazing role model of how to be a strong woman, especially to a young girl who wanted to be more than a housewife.” I could see there was something troubling her. “Tell me about the concerns you have about your aunt being in our home.”
“I’m worried she won’t have enough to do and that there aren’t enough people for her to talk to.” That was valid, and I was glad that she trusted me enough to share what she was thinking. “Let me talk to you about how we do things a little differently at The Geneva Suites. We focus on meaningful engagements instead of merely days packed with activities. We look at the skills and interests that our residents have and then build upon them.” I gave several examples of how we utilize the Geriatric Montessori method in our homes to provide our residents with a purpose.
“We believe that having a feeling of value, improves quality of life, and that is where we put our focus.” The niece began nodding her head, beginning to see the difference. I shared a story of how we had a resident who was very antsy and needed to be busy doing something all day. With his dementia, he was non-verbal, and he was quite mobile. We developed a plan for him to have his own Swiffer with his name on it. He would walk back and forth throughout the day “cleaning” the floors. When I would see him at the house, I would comment that the floors looked great, and he would beam. He was proud that he made a difference in keeping up his home.
This story really resonated with the niece, “I see how personalizing her day would be more difficult in a big setting, however, I can’t see her using a Swiffer; but she would love to help organize Tupperware or put the silverware away.” Now I was the one smiling. She got it! It can be a big leap to go from thinking bingo needs to happen every day to seeing that there is value in the day-to-day activities that make a house a home. Shortly after we ended our tour, she mentioned, “I have a lot to talk to my aunt about to learn what kind of day will feel meaningful to her.”
When she called me later to discuss moving forward with her aunt becoming a resident, she said, “After talking we decided that the smaller, quieter setting would work best for her because she is used to a pretty simple lifestyle. My aunt did ask if she gets any choice in what job she will do, she never did like sweeping. She was asking if there are any plants she could help take care of?” My comment was simply, “absolutely, and she will be able to veto jobs if they aren’t her thing.” With a little chuckle we moved on to schedule the move.
I’m looking forward to getting to know our newest resident, learning how she can impact our home and how we can support her in having fulfillment in her day!