Ginnie has dementia. She has long winter white hair that her caregiver’s pull back in two braids, because she likes it that way, though she can no longer see herself or her ice blue eyes in the mirror. She’s legally blind. Sometimes she doesn’t want to get out of bed. When she is up, Ginnie gets around in her wheelchair and wonders her new home looking for the flowers in her garden, flowers she grew and now recalls only in her mind. She cannot find the flowers. Ginnie is not able to join the recreation team for bingo or crafts, but sits quietly on the side lines with her ear bent towards the sound of our voices…
…until she joins us for ElderHealth & Living’s Wonders of Imagination: Reading Together Program. Children from infants to school aged children come together with staff, residents, and family members for our story time, crafts, and games. Ginnie hears baby Kaley cooing and attempting words during story time. She leans in Kaley’s direction, lifting her arms, “Oh bring her here. I wanna see that baby!” Ginnie rarely initiates conversation, but today, she is restless in her chair, she calls out over and over, and her sightless eyes dart in all directions. Her arms are reaching so far, she looks like a bird ready to fly.
We set baby Kaley on her lap, and Ginnie gently curls her into her body, stokes her head and face with her bony fingers, and speaks softly to Kaley. Ginnie is smiling so wide and big her eyes become slits and the blue disappears. It doesn’t matter that she cannot see Kaley with her eyes, she can feel her. And Ginnie, for the first time in a long time, is radiating with a quiet joy and contentment.
Reading with Children
ElderHealth & Living’s Wonders of Imagination: Reading Together Program is inspired by Intergenerational Programs IGP’s. IGPs are social programs that offer younger and older generations opportunities to interact and become engaged with one another. Children learn compassion and are less likely to become uncomfortable or frightened by persons with disabilities. The children offer our older adults opportunities to support education. Our elders are also less likely to become depressed, lonely, and bored while at the same time contributing to their immediate community in meaningful ways. Family members, staff including children and grandchildren of family and staff are part of our ongoing program. Please join us July 11th at 1:45pm at the Mt. Hood Home at ElderHealth & Living. This month our elders will be reading Winnie-The-Pooh with our children. After story time, we’ll move to crafts and healthy snacks.
For more info about our other great events on the calendar, please check out our interactive calendar: Events Calendar – Click Here!