My grandfather, Poppy, was a man of many talents and attributes. He helped raised my brother, cousins and I. He taught us the meaning of family, education and a good book. He tried, for countless hours, to get us interested in playing the piano, but that never stuck with any of us. But most importantly he taught what is was to be a good grandparent. When we had to move Poppy into a nursing home a year ago, the family wanted to bring as much of home to him as we could. Poppy had the beginning stages of dementia and would sometimes have trouble keeping up with events of today. We knew that bringing older objects or pictures to decorate his room with would be best, and boy did we have plenty to choose from! There were pictures of him and my grandmother when they first got married, pictures of their children when they were young, and then most importantly pictures of his grandchildren when we were just little kids. This was the time that Poppy remembered us the most. It was the time when we spent every summer and school holiday at his house, playing in the street or swimming in the neighborhood pool. They were summers that us four grandchildren could never forget.
Poppy’s other love in life, besides family, was music. He learned how to play the piano at a young age and eventually learned to play the organ for church services. After he and my grandmother married, Poppy was the church music director for decades. You could always hear him sining old church hymns throughout the halls of the nursing home. My family decided he needed as much comfort as possible in his room, so we copied church hymns, and hung them on the walls in his room for all to see. Every time I visited Poppy he would either pick out a picture or point to a hymn and tell me a story and sing me a song. I will never forget the value of an old picture or song.
When decorating your loved one’s room at an assisted living or nursing home, bring objects that mean something to them. Make sure your loved one recognizes the object before you hang it. Whether it is a picture from their past, music, a fishing rod or even a household trinket, having that object will help them to remember the old times. If your loved one is still mobile and active, decorate their door with the same things to help them recognize which room is theirs. It is said that people almost always recognize their signature, so make it bigger and hang it on their door. Having these knick-knacks from their past will help them to feel comforted while they are in their new home. Little reminders to ensure them things will be ok and they are loved and cherished by their families and friends.