This week was filled with Alzheimer’s buddies activities including reflection sessions and our end-of-the-semester brunch. The reflection session is one activity all members of HCAB are required to attend because we believe that the time we utilize allows our us to grow as better individuals and volunteers to our buddies.
Today was hair day at Abe’s! Everyone was confidently rocking a fresh new style. This week I was supposed to visit my buddy, Miss. Waneta, but she was still busy being pampered when I got there. Although I missed Miss. Wanera, I got to spend another day with Mrs. King! She had a brand new hairdo and pink manicure
This visit with Bernie was unique because I got to spend time getting to know many other people, too. When I got there, Bernie was eating lunch with her five friends, who are very social, actively engage in conversation, and love talking about their past. I sat down at this table with the warmest welcome from Bernie, who immediately stood up when she saw me and offered me her seat. I smiled and hugged her and pulled up a chair right next to her
I had another beautiful day in the sun with Bernie. When I arrived, Bernie and her friends were outside getting ready for the exercise class that we almost always go to together, but this time the chairs were set up outside. Bernie always lights up when we go outside, so I knew how happy she was to be doing the exercises out in the garden. When I arrived, like last week, I saw recognition in her eyes. She immediately introduced me to everyone and said, “This is my good friend."
This past visit was extra special because it was Easter Sunday! All of the residents had a huge lunch buffet, and were feeling extra lethargic in the late afternoon from all of the food and candy. We arrived at Abe’s Gardens at 3:00pm where children and dogs were running around and families were spending time with their loved ones. The mood was uplifting and the residents were happy.
Happy Easter! Today at Springhouse on the 3rd floor there was a celebration. It was inspiring hearing another resident, David, play the piano and sing. I later learned from another volunteer at HCAB who has David as a buddy that he’s blind. Not only was today a holiday, but it also felt like the beginning of Spring, so Pearl was in a great mood as were the other residents. The visit went by smoothly, and I enjoyed myself a lot today.
I have been visiting Bernie since the last week of January and I can say with confidence that the visits have significantly enhanced both of our lives. I joined this program because I understand the importance of having company when living in a retirement home, but our relationship has blossomed much further than me simply keeping her company. My first visit with Bernie was spent sitting in a sunny room talking in big, comfortable arm chairs. We had conversations about her former career as a teacher and a guidance counselor. It was evident that she was a guidance counselor because she was so engaged in conversation about my life and very curious about my passions, goals, and interests that she did not want to do participate in any organized activity that day. She said we just have too much to talk about.
Arriving into Hebrew Senior Life, I found Pearl in her bedroom when I saw that she wasn’t in the dining hall. So, I grabbed a chair, ready to walk towards her room. Before doing so, another elderly man introduced himself to me as Towne. He asked me if I was a student from Harvard, who came to visit, and where I was going. Upon hearing my mention of Pearl’s name, he, like many I have met, sincerely said that she was a sweet lady. He also commented on how often her son came to visit. I noticed that sweet was a word often attached to Pearl—more to follow later! I talked a bit with Towne, who was very nice, before heading to Pearl’s Room.
Yesterday was a flurry of excitement--the bright spot of the day amid a rainy day was the 3rd Harvard College Alzheimer’s Symposium! It was so incredibly rewarding being on the planning committee and watching the event slowly take place. Approximately 80 people joined us to discuss and learn about Alzheimer’s disease and the intricacies within it: the audience consisted of students (from chapters all across the nation), caretakers ranging from those in senior living centers to family members, scientists, and more.
The last time I visited Pearl was March 5th since Harvard had Spring Break, and I wasn’t in town. To be honest, heading into Hebrew Senior Life, I was nervous and slightly scared--Pearl wasn’t in the best of health when I last saw her and from previous experiences, I know that a lot can change over even a mere week. To my surprise and delight, Pearl was in much better health, and I saw her in the dining room.
Today, besides having lovely weather and being bright and sunny, was also a quiet day with Pearl. when I came in she was sleeping very peacefully in her bed, curled up. As I came in, I touched her and she opened her eyes briefly before settling back into sleep. I didn't want l disrupt her, so I just kept her company.
Typically, I visit Pearl in the dining room. However, this time since she just woke up when I went to visit, I went to visit her in her room. I’ve been there only once or twice, but very briefly. This time, as I entered the room, I was able to look around more. It was surprising--in the best way--to see how loved she is. There were dozens of photos along her bookcase of her and her family and friends: the pictures with her in them ranged from her in her late 40s to now.