SENIOR SPA DAY
CHANGING LIVES OF THE ELDERLY……
ONE DAY AT A TIME
BY NICOLE DEAL
In honor of Priscilla LeSage
February 24, 2011
I. PURPOSE OF THE PROJECT
CHANGING LIVES OF THE ELDERLY- ONE DAY AT A TIME is a project that addresses the issue of loneliness seniors experience as a result of being forgotten by our society. I developed and implemented it as my Girl Scout Gold Award Project.
The purpose of organizing a spa day was to create a special day of pampering for seniors who live in rest homes and have no family. I developed this manual to educate others as to the loneliness endured by seniors in rest homes and to hopefully inspire groups and individuals to make a difference by either duplicating the spa day event I developed or to branch out and develop their own projects that will Change the Lives of the Elderly….. One Day at a Time!
II. THE ISSUE AND ROOT CAUSE
Through real life experience and research I learned that the root cause of this issue is that people with elderly parents are very busy with work and raising their own families. In our society we tend to live in single family, rather than multi-generation households which mean that, many elderly people end up in rest homes at the end of their lives and experience great loneliness.
Unless more people realize the importance of caring and loving for seniors in their homes, more elderly seniors will experience the loneliness of being in a rest home.
Back in 2008 my nana was put in a convalescent home for three weeks until she could get strong enough so that my mom and papa could take care of her at home. During her short stay and our daily visits I noticed how unhappy she was there and how lonely so many of the seniors were. While visiting my nana at the facility daily I noticed how interested all the residents were with whomever visited the facility that day. Sometimes my visits were long so I did my homework and then eventually went to the recreation room and started practicing piano. Within a few minutes I noticed many seniors at the door watching me and enjoying the tiny gift of music I had to offer. My nana always liked to see me dance and she noticed how happy it made the residents as they watched me leap and spin up and down the hallways. I then realized that seniors tucked away in rest homes need a little love, would enjoy companionship, and would benefit a great deal from some pampering. This is where I got the idea for my Gold Award Project.
These regular visits to the rest home over the 3 week period opened my eyes. I was able to see that the world needs to be awakened to a senior population who is lonely yet still have lots to share and teach us. I think that even though our lives are very busy in this world we need to set our priorities straight and care for those who we love so much and have much still to offer.
III. THE PROJECT
Summary – I contacted an elder care facility and explained that I wanted to organize a spa day and asked if they would be able to identifying four seniors who lacked visitors and would benefit from such an experience. I hired professional who gave manicures, facials, foot and leg massages, haircuts, and hair styles. I also bought each of the senior ladies a bathrobe, nightgown, slippers, underwear, socks, and gave them a homemade lap blanket. I arranged to have some students from the St. Vincent High School Leadership Class, and the church youth group come and sing Christmas carols with and hand out cookies to all the seniors at the facility in addition to the four who had been pampered. Some of the girls also played the piano. I also arranged for my dance team to perform. I held dance and singing rehearsals prior to the event day to ensure these performances went smoothly. I coordinated different Committee’s to purchase the gifts, bake cookies, and entertain the residents.
Reflections – Planning the event was a very long process yet it turned out very well. I hoped to make the seniors feel loved and cared for and I really feel like I achieved that. I think that the four ladies that I pampered benefited the most from this project, though all the residents enjoyed the refreshments and entertainment. When talking to the volunteers after the event I could tell they really loved participating and benefited from the experience. The volunteers were all so happy they could be a part of such a loving event before the holidays. Angela said, ” I really enjoyed working with the senior ladies because it was such a nice way to give back to the community. The facility director and caregivers were so pleased with how the event went. They were so excited that I chose their facility to do my event at because nothing like that had ever happened there before. They all said thank you and really appreciated what the volunteers and I were doing for them. I was shocked at the ladies responses because they kept saying to me, “what did I do to deserve this”. It was a total surprise to the residents that we were coming to pamper them so the ladies were in awe throughout the entire event. The people I served ranged from mid 50’s to one lady who was 101 years old and each of the women were sharp enough to share their life stories with us.
Imagine what the world would be like if we actually nurtured and spent time with these seniors who have so much experience and wisdom to share with us. I returned a couple days after the event and gave them each with a framed picture of the senior group, the 4 service ladies and myself as a memento of the occasion. They were again so thankful that I was willing to share my time, and give them a day of pampering, food, and friendship, all of which they seldom receive. I realized that even the slightest touch, a gentle smile, company, and pampering, and how much these simple 4 hours made a difference in their lives. Imagine if we all found a cause in life that we went after and fulfilled their needs – the world would be truly changed.