Most of us who grew up in rural America have memories of vegetable gardens that helped feed our families. Those of us over 50 may have memories of mothers who cooked from scratch, baked their own cakes and pies … made jams and jellies and canned the vegetables from that family garden. Certainly, many the folks who live in Integrity Healthcare Communities have those memories!
Union County, the home of Integrity Healthcare of Anna and Integrity Healthcare of Cobden, is one of the most agricultural counties in Illinois. It stands to reason that the ladies at IHC of Anna have plenty of farming and gardening memories to discuss! Wouldn’t you like to know what this conversation is about? Look at their smiles! They are probably talking about very early mornings of picking vegetables … before the sun was up making the temperature too hot to endure. They might be talking about winning blue ribbons at the county fair for the best strawberry jam, or they might be gossiping about that ‘other woman’ who always won those blue ribbons and maybe didn’t deserve them! One thing is probable; they will repeat these stories over and again. That simply comes with the aging brain.
The elderly spend plenty of time reflecting on their pasts. They ponder their legacy and wonder what upcoming generations will think of them. That process of review often includes story-telling and smart great-grandchildren learn to record those stories and have the patience to listen to the same story multiple times.
It is important to realize that story-telling is more than it seems. Members of our elderly population need big boosts in self-worth. They are still valuable, but they tend to forget that and recalling important things from their lives helps them realize that they were important … and still are important.
We should do more than simply listen to these stories. It is our job to draw out more conversation. Reminiscence Therapy is a valuable way of entertaining your loved one, while lifting depression and instilling pride in what they have accomplished in their many years. Discuss the value of their past activities related to family life or community involvement. Discuss the things they learned or the lessons they taught others.
The ladies at Integrity Healthcare of Anna gathered around a basket of snow peas, which had been provided by a resident’s son. They talked and laughed, and eventually they got the peas cleaned! The staff in the Dietary took over and thoroughly cleaned the peas. They prepared them so everybody could enjoy happy times when dinner was served!
Do you think our ladies at Integrity Healthcare of Anna knew that this project was a part of Reminiscence Therapy? Probably not, and that is ok!