This weekend I was taking flowers to one of our precious residents for her birthday. When I walked into the assisted living community right away I noticed how beautifully the dining area had been transformed into the perfect setting for a birthday celebration. There were balloons, flowers, Happy Birthday signs, two kinds of cakes and more. (I also later found out that her son made homemade Butterfinger ice cream at his Mom’s request. YUM!) The resident’s family had done a lovely job celebrating their Mom and making her party special. I immediately was greeted by one of the daughters and we shared some friendly conversation and I told her how lovely everything looked for the party. It was during this conversation that it hit me…these adult children were in the phase of life where they still planned celebrations for their own children that were becoming young adults and making sure that their parent was celebrated as well. That is a TOUGH balancing act. Being so many things to so many people can be tough! So, I thought, what would be the best advice for new people coming into this role? The role of having a loved one in assisted living can be a challenge. What would be a good idea for their Mom on Mother’s Day? This family had it all figured out. Now for Mother’s Day of course balloons and birthday décor are not fitting. But taking time to spend time is the best gift of all.
Spring has sprung and one of the most therapeutic things for me is getting out and tending to flowers in the yard. Sadly, this only comes in small doses because my hectic schedule leads to the demise of many of my plants. I love to tell the story of how my Mom came for an extended stay and made it her business to water my neglected yard. She started spraying the plants on my front porch as I stood watching barefoot in the parched grass. “See how I’m reviving the porch plants? You must water them!” I nodded in approval, barely having the heart to tell her that she was doing an excellent job of knocking the dust off those fake plants. But given the chance, I love to plant, prune and water with the best of them. Being that many of our facilities have the name “The Gardens” in them it only makes sense that we have flowers and other plants on the grounds of our communities. Through the years I have learned valuable advice from many of my resident gardeners. Here are a couple invaluable tips I have discovered over the years.
Knock back the Knock Out Roses
One of my former residents, Mrs. Betty, had a lovely rose garden placed in her memory in front of our community by her family. After the garden had been there a little over a year, I was instructed by one of our sweet lady residents to cut the bushes back if I wanted them to grow. Cut it back?? But why?? It had some blooms. She explained that the blooms had become scarce and that the bush would be more full with blooms and leaves if I cut it back. So, paired with some thick leather gloves and long clippers I got to work. In no time at all the roses were prettier than they had ever been. Mrs. Betty would be so proud!
Pile Up the Pallets
In several of our other communities we have had fabulous gardens built up high so that residents do not have to stoop over to tend to them. These pallet gardens are a wonderful way to let residents get their hands dirty and show their skills. I love to get tips on when and how to grow vegetables in these gardens. One of the best tricks that a resident in Daphne once told me was to always check your Farmer’s Almanac on when and how to grow seeds or plants in the garden. Now you can access the Farmer’s Almanac online and it will allow you to pull up your location in Alabama and get tips specific to your region.
So, for some of the best therapy around, get down and dirty in the soil. Plant some pretty flowers or vegetables like our residents. It is a wonderful way to get cheap therapy and bloom where you are planted.