October 4, 2013
Noelle Leavitt Riley
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State lawmakers are continuing their efforts to protect the elderly population from abuse and neglect. Bravo.
Losing grandparents is never easy. Winton was my step grandfather. He was 92-years-old, and one of the most fascinating and intelligent men I ever knew. He was a blind mathematician and used to sit in his recliner, thinking, solving complex math problems in his head.
The goal, it seems, for our elderly loved ones is to live and die at home. Independence is a huge deal for senior citizens, and who can blame them for wanting to hold on to self-sufficiency for as long as possible?
On Wednesday, my husband Shawn and I took our first Northwest Colorado flower delivery to Sandrock Ridge Care & Rehab in Craig. Over the years, each delivery has been very different. Some are more difficult than others, and our visit to Sandrock was extremely emotional and tough for a number of reasons.
Have you ever sat down with your grandparents and it took forever for them to tell a story or get to the point? What about the stories that you’ve heard over and over again? I know that it might be more beneficial to us if we could speed things up or stop them in the middle of retelling a story we’ve already heard, but I wonder how that makes them feel.
Do you remember what it was like receiving a letter in the mail before email became popular? It’s so nice to open a mailbox, clogged with bills and advertisements, and see a letter among the mess. Just seeing a card that someone composed, addressed, stamped and carried to the mailbox can put a smile on anyone’s face. So we must ask ourselves, “Should I take a moment and send a note to a friend or a loved one?”
I visited Sandrock Ridge Care and Rehab for the first time Friday afternoon, and I was pleasantly surprised how clean and cheerful the staff keeps the facility. Over the years, I’ve visited dozens of nursing homes and a large majority don’t live up to those standards. Sandrock Ridge Administrator Dollie Rose was kind enough to set up an interview for me with two delightful ladies who live at the home — Debbie Harris and Betty Rice. The two are the closest of friends.
Because giving back is so important, I was incredibly touched when I heard about a local woman who stood at the checkout counters at City Market in Craig and paid for groceries for every senior who passed through. What a remarkable gift to give.
Growing old is not easy. I never realized how difficult it is for the elderly until my grandma Mary Leavitt broke her hip in 2005, which ultimately confined her to a nursing home. Unfortunately, she took her last breath in a place she did not call home, a place where other senior citizens rarely were visited by their family, a place where a majority of the elderly population end up despite their desperate wishes to live and die in their own houses.