As we celebrate National Adult Day Services Week (Sept. 18-24) at the James L. West Center for Dementia Care, we find value today, and always, in the importance of giving extra meaning and fulfillment to seniors who may be in their 70s, 80s, and 90s.
Through the West Center’s Senior Day Program, we are privileged to provide meaningful engagement and support to aging members of our community whose lives have been touched by dementia.
While many of us become so consumed with how busy we are with life, family and careers, I encourage you to take a moment to remember the ever-increasing number of our aging community members and the investments they have made to make Fort Worth the outstanding community that it is today:
- They helped plan the structure of Fort Worth
- They built the outstanding quality of life elements that we take for granted.
- They created our youth sports programs and arts programs, and then coached and led those programs.
- They served on boards, commissions, school boards, city councils, and more.
- They volunteered and helped create and breathe life into the nonprofits that are so essential today.
These seniors actually helped build the todaythat we enjoy so much. I might offer counsel that we slow down a bit and say, “thank you” and genuinely engage to learn, to love, and to reaffirm with these aging members of our community the place of significance they hold in our lives and within our larger community.
These moments of significance are provided to our West Center teams each and every day and this is something that we don’t take for granted. Many of our elders have lost their friends and, perhaps a spouse, and more than half feel that they are losing their meaning and purpose in life. It doesn’t have to be that way.
During the remainder of National Adult Day Services Week, I encourage you to take the time to phone or visit with a senior adult who has touched your life and, more often than not, might be lonely. Whether you decide to volunteer for Meals on Wheels and brighten a homebound senior’s day with a hot meal and a smile, or if you volunteer at a community center, senior center, or at your house of faith, you can make a difference. You WILL make a difference!
One of the kindest things you can do when visiting seniors is to ask about some of their greatest moments. This gesture allows them to think back to earlier, perhaps more vibrant years, to be the star in the movie of their life.
While you visit, notice the sparkle in their eyes as they share these stories that shine the light on them. Through this engagement, you are honoring their meaningful contributions in life and to our community.
You are giving them worth. In FORT Worth!
When senior adults feel valued, something incredible happens. They smile more. Their quality of life increases; their sleep improves and, through these and other ways, they become more self-assured. The transformation can literally happen before your eyes – all as a result of some kind words, personal engagement, and the gift of time!
A question you must ask yourself is, “Do I have the time?” Let’s think of it another way: Did you or someone else do such kind acts for your parents or grandparents in their later years?
And do you want, in your advanced years, to be passively ignored or would you prefer someone to find you interesting, engaging, and important?
This week brings to light the important work of the Adult Day Service organizations operating in our community. These organizations provide engagement and support at various levels for aging adults who have shaped and transformed our lives.
Taking the time to see and appreciate them is the least that we can do.
Cathy Neece Brown is Vice President, Mission Support, for the James L. West Center, 1111 Summit Ave., Fort Worth.