Ask Me About My Cats
A while back, my friend Wendy shared a story of her encounter with an elderly woman at the grocery store. She was alone, carefully picking out produce, and something about the way she carried herself seemed lonely and worn. Wendy made eye contact and asked the woman if she knew how to pick out a good peach, feigning uncertainty in her own abilities. The woman's eyes lit up and she proudly showed my friend how to tell a good peach from a GREAT peach. Wendy thanked her and watched her walk away with a smile, standing a little taller and moving with a little more purpose, all because of a peach.
Little moments like that can make a difference in anyone's day. To be noticed, needed or helped feels good, especially for those struggling with loneliness or depression. As our loved ones age they can experience many different forms of loss. They face health struggles of their own or their spouse, lose abilities and memories, friends and family... it can be very lonely.
Thankfully, just about everyone has a peach. For me, my peach is my cats. If you see me in my old age (or now) buying a bag of cat food, I would be so excited if you took time to ask me about my cats.
One of the services I offer through Aging with Grace is "Genuine Companionship". I didn't choose the word "genuine" because it sounded nice or sells well, but because I truly want to be there for those who are at risk for loneliness or depression. Since I am not hired to help with ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) I get to focus on their "peach" and spend time talking about or doing something they love.
When I worked in a memory care community my favorite thing was hearing the stories our residents and their families would share. One gentleman enjoyed sitting outside, talking about his family and his time in the military. He was so proud to have served his country. Eventually, he had to move to another care home but because of the dementia he was not allowed outside alone. When I visited I would find him staring out the window into a parking lot, the room dim and lonely.
Once, around Memorial Day, we were able to take a walk outside together. He saw the flag pole out front and stopped mid-sentence to salute. After a few quiet minutes he brought his hand down and began telling stories from when he was active duty, eyes glistening one moment and laughing the next. The stories flowed with ease despite his usually difficulty forming sentences. All it took was finding that moment, that "peach", that gave him joy.