Service Project: Visit people living at a nursing home
Prep time: 2 minute phone call to the place to make sure the timing will work for the residents
Duration: 30 minutes - 1 hour
Lesson(s) learned: it’s easy to cheer up someone’s day just by lending a listening ear
How we did it: I’ve got a most wonderful grandmother whose Alzheimer’s disease got progressively worse the last ten years of her life. In her last years when we would go visit her at an assisted living facility I swear that there were glimpses of her real self when she connected with me as her granddaughter but most of the time we were just some caring strangers who had come to talk and laugh with her.
My grandma passed away a few year ago and now I don’t have any family or friends in a nursing home but remembering my past visits to my grandma, where we were essentially strangers to her and still managed to brighten her day, got me thinking that we might as well go to a nursing home to visit some strangers and brighten their days.
I’ve got a secret to success for this particular service activity. A stroller. Maybe your kids don’t go exploring but I know mine does and that a nursing home is not the greatest place for a wandering child. There’s an assisted living facility about half a mile from my house so I had Anna and Ivory run around to get some energy out and then strapped them into a double stroller. While I walked there, they snacked and had a grand time feeding eachother pretzels and cereal. By the time we got there, they had gotten their energy out and were well fed, the perfect combination for a successful visit.
I stopped at the front desk and asked if there was anyone living there who might like some visitors. They knew just the person who could use some chit-chat and we were soon introduced to Vern. We had a wonderful chat. She told me all about her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who would visit someday. Mostly though, she looked at those toddlers and smiled. She told me that spanking doesn’t do any good and that they grow up so quickly. And then she went back to staring at those cute chubby faces.
We had a great visit. Anna and Ivory were content in the stroller the whole time. A younger baby could snuggle in the arms of one of these older folks. An older child could be conversing his/herself. It didn’t cost anything and didn’t take much time. I hope that we brightened Vern’s day. I know she brightened mine.