Resident shares her experience as a new resident, learns how to make new friends
Once I was all moved in and could breathe again, I toured Country Meadows so I’d know where things were and how I could get from one place to another without getting lost. I tried in vain to figure out why the three buildings were not in numerical order and traveled up and down many elevators looking. I found some places and am still looking for others!
I’m proud of myself because now I know how to reach the Chapel, the two dining rooms, the Bistro, Fitness Center, Governor’s Lounge, Wellness Center, main office, Marketing Department, Resident representative, and libraries (all three of them!)
The Chapel is most important – besides having services that is our entertainment center! Great singers, bands, dancers, reader’s theatre programs, and special speakers on a variety of subjects perform there. It’s nice to have programs come to us and put on such enjoyable shows.
Another entertainment center we have is in the Atrium, which is filled with residents sitting in a theatre-type arrangement. These are mostly singers and musicians, many who take advantage of our beautiful Baby Grand piano.
Once I found the fitness center I go there as often as possible for the balance class, and seated Yoga and to use some of the equipment available. Every morning from 9:30 – 10:00 I attend the exercise class, good for strength and endurance. It gets me up and at ‘em – a good way to start the day!
Between all of the programs, activities, mealtimes, Happy Hour and other social opportunities, it’s easy to meet new people and make friends. It seems like everyone wears a smile and has a warm greeting to express – no matter what the time of day. “Good morning; good afternoon; good evening; good day, and the traditional Hello, or Hi there.” If I say it first, I always get a response.
Once names are learned it’s even easier, and seems to make the relationship warmer and closer. One dear woman never responded to my greeting, and I later learned she had a bad hearing problem and limited eyesight. One day I got right next to her and said, “Good morning!” She said, I hear your voice but don’t know what you said and I can’t see you.”
I repeated my greeting and looked directly into her eyes. I asked for her name, and she asked for mine. The next day I again got close to her and greeted her, using her name, and she responded using mine. She told me she recognized my voice, and since then we exchange daily greetings, using each other’s name. That exchange gave me a warm feeling and a new friend!
I don’t want to sound like Pollyanna here, because not all of my experiences with residents have been perfect. Unfortunately, there are some who lean heavily on their walkers, with frowns and scowls on their faces, looking at the floor. When I speak to them they ignore my greeting and go on their way.
And I noticed it’s not just me they’re ignoring – it’s everyone. I can only imagine that they must be hurting and unhappy , or perhaps their hearing is not good. I’ll keep trying and hope for a breakthrough.
Most of the residents here usually rely on their walkers, wheelchairs or canes. When asked “How are you today?” the answer is often, “Not so good.” And they elaborate on the various aches and pains they’re experiencing. I’ve learned to listen patiently, offering an occasional word of sympathy and hope that they’ll feel better soon. It’s the least I can do, and if it makes them feel that someone listens to them and cares about them, it’s worthwhile.
I guess that’s the key – listen, showing interest and concern to others. I’ve made many new friends that way, many who have become very good friends with whom I often get together to visit, talk or share stories.
Staff members are an entirely different story – they always have a smile and a warm greeting and call me by name. They’ll do anything you ask of them and never begrudge your request. The various aides and helpers fall into that category, as do the workers in the dining room, housekeeping staff, technical staff or wherever.
With all of the personal attention I get from everyone, I feel very special.