At Arthur’s Senior Care, we see firsthand the magical effect that children and babies can have on the mood and demeanor of our clients. Young children bring sunshine to clients’ days. Perhaps these young faces bring them back to a friendly, familiar time when they took care of their own younger siblings and children.
Arthur’s is uniquely situated to unite the two generations. That’s because some of our locations find children and clients living under the same roof. Some of our site managers have young families and they all live in the on-site living quarters. In the interactions between the children and clients, fast friendships form every day.
Children can be a calming presence
When you’re living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, anxiety, agitation and a sense of uncertainty come with the territory, which is why therapies, interactions and a sense of routine are important for their care plan and well-being. For some clients, the smiling face of a young child or a baby can calm and center them, drawing them out of their shells.
[Read about Doll Therapy for Dementia at Arthur’s Senior Care]
When Raymond met Greta
One special friendship that perfectly illustrates the impact that young visitors have on clients is the one between Raymond and Greta. Greta’s mom was the Housing Manager at an Arthur’s home. At the time Greta was a preschooler who lived with her parents and two older siblings in the lower level of the facility.
When Greta met Raymond, he was a new arrival. When he was first wheeled into the house, his head hung down. He had lost his wife a few months prior, and was still deep in grief. His children were hoping the home-like residential setting, and returning to an atmosphere with people and routines, would help the widower rally from his sorrow.
So when Raymond arrived, people tried to greet him and make him feel welcome. But he wouldn’t respond or lift his head. It was very sad. But in comes Greta. The little girl looks up into his face and says cheerfully, “Hi, Mista Way!”
We were so surprised when Raymond lifted his head, straightened in his chair, and a small smile formed. It was as if Greta had hit a hidden switch to activate the heartbroken, despondent man. Before long, the two were singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
Their connection was instantaneous and magical, and the scene brought everyone to tears, including Ray’s children and the care staff.
A special friendship
Over the next two months, Greta and Raymond became good friends. Every night, she’d toddle up in her nightie for their end-of-day song and prayer. Then it was, “Good night, Mista Way!”
She refused to go bed without performing this quiet routine.
One night, after Greta was tucked in, Ray had a request for the staff. Should he pass away, he wanted to protect Greta: “Please don’t let that little girl see a dead body.”
That night, Raymond passed away.
He truly did have a broken heart, and he wanted nothing more than to be with his wife.
But it was a little girl who made his final weeks so much sweeter.
For the care staff at Arthur’s, it was an honor to support Ray and a privilege to witness his relationship with Greta.
Learn more about how we provide specialized care in our series “Insights from Arthur’s” featuring educational videos from Arthur’s Director of Development and Senior Care Consultant, Deb Nygaard.