Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chocolate, Heaters, and Two-year-olds

Everything is going well with my grandmother.  She made a trip to Wal-Mart with the Southridge activities director and bought herself some sunglasses and a hat for her walks outside around the facility.  The staff told me she had spent time yesterday morning in the garden... although she didn't mention it to me at all!  I'm learning to function more in her "world" when I am there and leave it at that... so far, so good!

Yesterday, I visited Mam-ma, filled her bird feeder, and took back some clothing I had laundered and ironed for her.  When I arrived, she was not in her room, but residents nearby told me she was in the "library" area near the front entrance.  As I made my way there, I heard the unmistakable talk and laugh of Timothy.  My sister had brought him over for a visit. I found the three of them there... my sister and Mam-ma sitting in chairs, with Timothy perched atop Mam-ma's walker (it has a little seat).  He was looking at a little book made out of fabric with Mam-ma.  We visited for a minute or two, and then Mam-ma insisted we return to her room.

I had noticed when I was outside filling the bird feeder that Mam-ma's heater was running.  The temperature had risen to the upper 70s, and it felt quite nice outside.  Inside Mam-ma's room was another matter altogether.  It was very hot, of course... and she didn't seem to notice, sitting comfortably in her chair wearing a blouse and a jacket made of sweatshirt material!

Timothy noticed a bowl of peppermints on the coffee table.  Mam-ma told him he couldn't have one, but she would find something for him.  She got a fun-sized Three Musketeers bar out of her drawer and unwrapped it for him.  He started eating... the chocolate started melting.  As he navigated the small room fingering Mam-ma's knick-knacks, she admonished, "Don't let him get that candy on the quilt!"  Yeah, right!  I maneuvered him away from the bed, and I opened drawers until I found a roll of paper towels - quickly darting to the bathroom to moisten one.  I returned in time to wipe Timmy's hand and the two drawers he had just smeared with chocolate!

Back to the bathroom with Towel #2... and when I returned, Timmy had switched hands, and now the OTHER hand was covered in chocolate.  My sister finally retrieved the rest of the candy bar and helped Timmy finish it, so we could clean up and be done with that.  I learned later that Timmy gets candy every time he visits.  I said to my sister, "Well, DUH... he knows to ask for those peppermints so he will get chocolate!"  She said she supposed so.  I'm quite sure of it... he's smart enough to figure out that one!

Chocolate and heat and all things considered, it was a good visit.  We sang and "performed" for Mam-ma... and she laughed and clapped at Timmy's antics.  He grew restless, and Mam-ma told me to "Put him on that walker and push him up and down the halls."  I did, while she and my sister visited.  And I told my husband later... the residents LOVED it.  They were gathering in the hallways in anticipation of dinner in the dining hall, and each time we passed them, they oohed and ahhed over Timothy - "Bring him here!  He's so precious!  Come here and let me have a look at him!" 

We forget that older people seldom see a baby or a small child... and they miss them!  And Timmy was fine with all of the attention.  He gave a man named Charley a "high five" - he smiled and jibbered for a couple of ladies I know, and he waved at everyone.

These visits are good for all concerned - they thrill my grandmother... AND her fellow residents. They give us a buffer - something to focus on other than my grandmother's complaints.  And they teach Timmy to love and respect the elderly.  In all, I would say that while the visits had elements of a rodeo, it was still time well spent.

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Lotsa Helping Hands is an online resource created to empower caregivers.  Their mission is:  "To be the leading provider of a web-based volunteer and caregiving coordination platform that supports the objectives of our partners, with a continued commitment to providing resources that empower family caregivers and promote the value of community."

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