Well, here I am posting again on the same day. But why not? Who ever said blogs can’t be sporadic? My justification of writing aside, I wanted to discuss Hearth Senior Living, a thriving community for the elderly nestled somewhere in the eastern United States.
Why the ambiguity? a clever reader may ask. Well, while I love the idea of sharing my thoughts and experiences on the world wide web, I also love doing it in a safe and secure manner. Also on the question of privacy, whenever I discuss the staff members or the residents of Hearth Senior Living, I will use aliases so as to shield them from the unadulterated scrutiny of the public (Now, I just have to remember to keep the names straight).
Now that that’s over with, I can get on with what I was talking about before.A few days after graduating from high school, I started working as a volunteer at Hearth Senior Living. Staffed with experienced nurses, caregivers, and doctors, surrounded by well-kept gardens, and only five minutes away from where I live, it seemed like the perfect option.
During my volunteer orientation, the activities director, Carol, told me that I could switch between the Village and the Community whenever I wanted. But wait. I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I?
The Assisted Living center is divided into two separate divisions: the Village and the Community. The Community is the bright and happy front half of the institution where the elderly in need of stimulation and conversation go. There you’ll find a plethora of puzzles, board games, two computers (which are usually free), and a grand piano. The residents there are sharp, usually good-humored, and relatively unremarkable (I’m using that in the best sense of the term. They really are interesting if you take the time to chat.). The center also has a series of interesting activities that they do at hourly intervals in order to maintain the residents’ interest. For instance, they have an hour for arts and crafts on Mondays, visits from an adorable golden retriever on Wednesdays, and rousing Zumba classes on Fridays .They take weekly trips to fun places like the Spa, Salons, churches, old forts, the library, etc. I, personally, think they have a pretty good thing going for them.
And then there’s the other half. The half that isn’t as bright, and happy, and well, sane. This is the half that I go to most often. This is the Village, or the dementia unit. When I first walked in, I was met with a mixture of blank and curious stares. There was a woman constantly touching the surface of tables, as she periodically rapped her knuckles against them, making a large knocking sound. When I approached her wheelchair and warily wished her, “Good morning,” she responded in quiet, flowing gibberish that ended in a whisper.
Seeing my confused expression, Anita, the director of the Village activities introduced me to the woman while gently massaging her back.
“This is Miss Margaret. She’s one of our most tactile residents. I think she would enjoy some sensori-motor stimulation later,” she said to me with a cheerful smile.
Since I’ve only volunteered here for a couple of days, I’m yet to become acquainted with the rest of the residents of the Village.