I feel fortunate to be able to say that I love my job. The reason for this is that I have the privilege of working with some very special seniors who happen to live in nursing homes throughout the city.
As I walk the halls and get to know the personalities behind the stories I am always amazed by the character of this generation.
However, I am also saddened by the loneliness and confusion that is a reality of this season of life.
I recently discovered that there is a day in the U.S. designated as Cheer Up the Lonely Day, which was created by a man from Detroit named Francis Pesek. Francis was described by his daughter as "a quiet, kind, wonderful man who had a heart of gold." While he was alive, Francis was an advocate for shut-ins and residents in nursing homes who suffered from the effects of loneliness and isolation. Cheer Up the Lonely Day takes place in July to commemorate Francis’ birthday.
There are many nursing homes in our respective communities filled with people who could benefit from some simple acts of kindness. The connections that come from positive interactions can be a lifeline to the lonely. I’m sure we are all aware of someone who could benefit from some care and attention.
If you’re thinking of cheering up some lonely senior citizens, it would be wise to contact individual care homes regarding their visiting policies to ensure the safety and health of the residents. Visits should be as positive and upbeat as possible. I myself have found our community papers to be wonderful resources for positive stories. The task of reading can become a real struggle to some as their eyes age.
When looking for further ideas for visits, the recreation staff in these facilities would be great resources. They may even be able to plug you into some of their existing activities and provide suggestions for connecting with their residents in meaningful ways.
So, in the spirit of Francis Pesek, let’s look for ways to reach out to the lonely in our communities this summer.
Kelley Sookram is a community correspondent for St. James-Assiniboia.