Spend Your Saint Patrick’s Day with Seniors

by francy Dickinson               www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; My next door neighbor is in an adult care home and I’m thinking of him. He celebrates his Irish heritage very strongly and I miss his house draped in green lights for St Paddy’s Day. Should I go and visit him when he’s in the last stages of cancer and I’m not a family member?

YES!  Go, you will find him so happy to see you – especially when you walk in the door with something fun for St Patrick’s day.  My uncle was an Irish nut and celebrated his heritage all year long, but right around the day of green, I would bring him something special in the care center.  Never feel like you can not visit a senior. Visiting is for friends and family and very rarely do they close down the room to just a couple of family members.

  • Adult Care Homes are really just like a family home. But the rooms are taken up with people that can no longer live on their own or do not want or need the feeling of a large care facility. He will have his own room so just go over and ask to see him. They may limit your stay to 15 or 20 minutes and I think that’s a reasonable time frame for all visits to seniors in care.
  • I would look through your pictures and find one with you and he or take a new one of your family, the animals that he knows, you might even go and have everyone sit on his old home’s front steps. Something fun, something easy…it will give him a smile.
  • There are door decorations and everything green you can imagine at the Dollar stores right now. But my favorite is the little dolls that play the music and dance. I got one for my Uncle and he put it in his walker and took it out to the dinning area to show the rest of the guys!
  • There are foods that you can bring, cookies that have green icing and green health drinks! Just be who you are and go and visit and talk about your life. Do not talk about his cancer or passing unless he brings up the subject. What he wants is an escape from his normal daily routine and you are the perfect escape for him.
  • If you are a guy…you can call the Adult Care Home ahead of time and ask if you could bring an O’douls beer to drink with your male senior friend. They have a very small alcohol base and it would be fun to buy a couple green glasses at the Dollar store and do a toast to Ireland.
  • If you have some money in your pocket a wonderful gift is the “Over Ireland” DVD, or video that you can buy from PBS, you may be able to check it out of a library or find it cheaper – used on eBay. This is a fabulous fly over of Ireland and he would be thrilled to watch it often. Most Adult Care Homes have a main TV room with DVD and movie night, so the players will be available for your use.
  • The next thing is the music. There are loads of CD and cassettes that have Irish music and that would be a fun way to leave him smiling.
  • If your senior is in a larger facility then just make sure you call about the video/DVD player and the music player, you may have to pick up a cheap CD player and leave it for his use. Remember any time you do that, look at the thrift shops they often have older players available and the headphones are at the Dollar store.
  • If it’s a lady, senior, you’re visiting they would love a shamrock plant. (I have one in my kitchen window all year long and we call the plant itself Uncle Bill, in honor of my uncle that was so proud to have been Irish.)
  • There are loads of green throws that would also do as a nice little gift, they make so many in fleece these days that are inexpensive and would brighten their days.

Most of all…it is just the fact that you tell him – I miss your green lights…so he knows that he has made memories of his life as he faces his own passing. It is a good thing to do for people.

A friend of my husband who used to work for him, called him the other day. She had heard he had dementia and she wanted to tell him she cared. She had been in the travel business with him and had stayed in long after we had left the field. She was facing the end of her travel career in the next few months and she was thinking of my Georgie. She called and was very kind to remind him that he had taught her all she knew about travel and it had given her thirty plus years of income, travel, friends and a wonderful career. She wanted him to know she appreciated all the things he did for her.  That was very kind of her, she is a kind person, but she may not realize how much my husband needed those words. He is facing so many challenges with his Alzheimer’s and feels he’s getting so dumb and forgetful. – We all are trying to remind him of the many good things he accomplished in his life. So if your senior had dementia, remind them of good things in the past that is what they will remember – the past.

I appreciate your kindness towards your neigbhor and how happy he will be to see your smile. Please do go to my website www.seniorcarewithspirit.com  and enjoy the rest of the information I have there for care givers. I would appreciate you remembering if you or a friend of yours has a senior that is in need of a placement into a residency or care facility- please think of me. I try very hard to review the seniors needs and find a place that’s a good fit.

Thank you and happy St Patty’s Day – f

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