Recently our favourite restaurant closed after many years and it was very hard on us. When celebrating a special occasion, tired after a busy day, wanting “comfort food” or meeting family members we would go to Wongs Chinese Restaurant. We had watched the Wong children grow up, get married and have their own children and we felt like part of their extended family. We always felt welcome and they knew what we usually ordered and had our beverages on the table very quickly. Occasionally one of the daughters had some special baking or some treats from their garden in a little “loot” bag for us. Now there is a big void in our lives which we are trying to adjust to.
Doug has been diabetic for many years and really enjoys Newmans Diet Lemonade. We could buy it in a supermarket about a half hour from our home but for about a month we have not been able to purchase it so we drove to a store over an hour away and were delighted to find several containers of it. Although it has a sugar substitute it doesn’t leave an aftertaste. We have tried to find a replacement and were so happy to find our familiar product.
When a senior leaves their home the change is usually very difficult and it is important to bring as many familiar things as possible. I worked with one family that wanted to buy a new bedroom set for a dad with Alzheimer’s’disease. The bedroom set was older but solid and familiar. Our suggestion was to move the set because it was familiar to him. The family agreed and it did help make the transition a little easier. If a parent likes their older comfortable chair bring it. It’s better to have something familiar than something that “looks nice.”
Even if a parent is moving to one room bring as many familiar pictures as possible. Stand in the doorway facing the room and determine what their eyes will see when they open the door. Strategically place furniture and pictures that are familiar to them. You want them to feel at home when they open the door. Seniors often shrink so try and place things at the eye level of your parent.
Pictures are familiar and comforting to a loved one but they also give the staff something to talk about. A picture of a pet can open a conversation. A diploma from a university or a picture in a military uniform also helps the staff to “get to know” your parent and respect their accomplishments.
My grandmother’s parents had owned a bakery and grandma had worked in a bake shop later in her life. She spent her last years in a bed in a care facility. One Christmas my daughter and I did a lot of specialized baking. We made light and dark fruit cake, tiny gingerbread people and delicious shortbread. All items contained no nuts or items that a senior could choke on. They were carefully and colourfully wrapped and delivered to the nursing facility from “grandma” for a Christmas treat to be given to each senior. It was fun, honoured her and brought lots of special attention her way.
Grandma took the time to get to know all the staff members. One day when I asked her if there was something I could get for her she told me to look at the young man who was sweeping the floor. She then said “His wife is expecting a baby. Could you get a baby gift for me?” She loved the people and they loved their “Grandma.”
At times I’ve bought “treats” for staff members from a parent.
Change can be difficult and familiar things can ease the transition. Also remember when a senior develops relationships with the team members it can also make them feel more accepting of the needed changes in their life.