It wasn’t long ago that many feared at a certain age they would become useless and be “put out to pasture” so to speak. As the years marched on, the pressure to remain vital escalated. The truth is that with proper care, there is no age that is without its opportunity for growth.
In recent years research has confirmed that the loss of brain cells due to aging, doesn’t mean that the brain becomes unable to learn. In our work with dementia patients at Perry Lutheran Home we find that the damaged brain retains an ability to learn. The key to remaining vital in body, mind and spirit is found in the 3 “E’s”.
The first of these is Entertainment. For many decades, nursing facilities have done great work in stimulating individuals through laughter and smiles. Calendars are chalk full of people who come in to sing, show crafts, share history and all with good humor. Smiling is contagious and laughter produces helpful chemical reactions in the brain. Using the senses to experience another’s message is a key to human interaction and that doesn’t stop with age.
The second “E” is one that is equally essential-Engage. One key to feeling well as we age is to remain important. We may not go to the office or fields and contribute to some product or service that benefits others, but we have a reservoir of time, talent and experience that is beyond compare. Finding ways to stay plugged in to a community need or priority is important work. At our home, one of the most popular engagements we’ve had is working to support animals. Animal treats are prepared and toys made and shared with local animal shelters, followed by a visit to present the goods. Other engagements that have wonderful vitality powers are working with young children, helping neighbors, praying for others, attending church services, etc.
Which brings me to the third “E” – Educate. A person is never too old to go back to school and it’s never too late to learn whether it is building a craft or continuing an academic pursuit. In the future, many more Community College classes will be targeted at the elder population who have the time and often the resources to continue their education, even from the confines of wheelchairs and care facilities. Not everyone will be able to keep up with higher education, but there are many learning curriculums just waiting to be tailored to individual desires and community needs.
Older folks that stay alone, eat poorly, don’t exercise and miss the three “E’s” quickly rot away. With a little thought and effort, we can do many important things for as long as the Good Lord gives us to live.
Give it some thought (it’s good for your brain!)
See you in church!
Pastor Phillips, CEO
Perry Lutheran Home (Main Campus – Spring Valley Campus)
Information provided by Pastor Max Phillips, CEO, Partnership of Perry Lutheran Home and Spring Valley Assisted Living, 2323 E. Willis, Perry, (515)-465-5342 or (515) 465-7500.