Visitors Bring Cheer To Residents Of Nursing Homes

November 27, 1991|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Staff writer

THANKSGIVING — a time to gather your family around, catch up on what everybody's been doing, have the traditional holiday dinner, maybe watch some football.

But what if you live in a nursing home? Is Thanksgiving goingto be just another day, or will someone be there to share with you the special joys of a holiday?

"It's a mixed time," said Jeanie Reiter, activities director for the Long View Nursing Home in Manchester. "Some residents get depressed because they know they can't get out, and there are those who really get down and it really works on them.

"Then you have the other side, the ones who have an upbeat attitude and accept being here," she said.

Many of the 100 residents who are able do go home with family, Reiter said. More, though, stay in and have dinner with relatives and visitors at the nursing home because of transportation problems.

"Many residents are bedridden or wheelchair-bound and most people don't have a handicapped vehicle for the wheelchair or other equipment the resident needs," she said.

Today's nursing homes are not just some place to put an elderly, sick person for medical care, administrators say. The nursing homes offer daily activities for residents, as well as welcoming family involvement.

"We encourage families to take residents home as much as possible," said Carroll Talbott, administrator of the Golden Age Guest Home near Winfield. "On the day of the holiday, our goal is to arrange for as many as we can to go home.

"We feel the family has a responsibility to the resident, especially on major holidays," Talbott said.

The Westminster Nursing Home and Convalescent Center and Carroll Lutheran Village's nursing center also encourage as many residents as possible to go home with their families.

For those who must stay in, there is the traditional turkey with dressing and all the trimmings for dinner. Family members and visitors are welcome to eat with the residents on Thanksgiving Day.

Additionally, churches, civic and social groups and schools visit the nursing homes to take gifts, programs and holiday cheer to residents.

"We have a lot of intergenerational groups who come in because our residents don't get that contact with younger people," Reiter said.

Among the special events for Long View residents are visits from the Sunshine Development Child Care Center, a fifth-grade class from Manchester Elementary School, a professional craftsman to teach a new craft and a local Girl Scout troop.

Residents also are being kept busy preparing for their annual Christmas Bazaar Dec. 7.

"Every year, the day after Thanksgiving they really set to work because they know they have only a week left, and it's a fun time," Reiter said.

Mary Jakimovitz, 91, has been a resident at Long View for 11years. She's outlived all her family and uses a wheelchair since losing her legs to circulatory problems. She'll spend tomorrow at the nursing home.

"I had a friend who used to take me out before I lost my legs," she said while painting a picture of a turkey. "I'll have dinner here -- the dinner's good here."

Jakimovitz's hand is steady, despite her age, and she keeps busy painting pictures and making crafts.

"I got a blue ribbon for a doll at the (Carroll County 4-H) fair last year," she said proudly.

Working on a jigsaw puzzle nearby is Vernon Brehm, 76, who plans to go to his brother's home tomorrow for dinner and a visit with his sister-in-law and nieces.

Brehm has been at Long View for the two years since he broke his hip. He had polio at age 19 months, he said, and the broken hip made it impossible to walk.

"My brother visits often and takes me home for a big dinner," Brehm said.

"Thanksgiving is a day for the families to come in, and we have the traditional Thanksgiving dinner," said Gail Porter, activities director for the 46 residents of the Golden Age Guest Home.

Many area community groups also come in to visit the residents, especially churches and Scout troops. Porter said the facility also had a German festival last week. About half the residents will go home with family tomorrow.

Henrietta Snow, 83, is looking forward to having Thanksgiving with her daughter and only child.

"I liketo go home with my daughter," Snow said. "She has a lot of family members there, and it's like a big party."

But Mary Myrick, 63, usually spends Thanksgiving at the nursing home, relaxing and enjoying the dinner.

"I have a sister who visits and a son and two grandchildren," she said. "But Thanksgiving is usually a quiet holiday (for me)."

But it's no quiet Thanksgiving for Hortense Favour, an 86-year-old resident of Westminster Nursing and Convalescent Center, who plans to go home to her daughter's for dinner.

"She has a lot of family come in, and they show family slides and shows," Favour said. "We're a close family. We have a fireplace fire and a big meal and lots ofcompanionship and love."

Tomorrow at Westminster will start out with a special worship service by Larry Williams of the Praise Assembly Church of God of Eldersburg at 9:30 a.m., then dinner at 3 p.m., said Shirley Hickey, activities director.

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