Although age make take away the ability to be independent, it doesn’t need to take away the joy of Christmas, especially at Chatham Nursing and Rehab where the residents make their own Christmas memories.
Thanks to assistance from Carol Stone and other staff members, Activity Director Carolyn Caldwell has set up six Christmas trees with the direction of residents and patients.
“It’s their home,” said Caldwell on a tour of the trees. “They need to be calling the shots and they do.”
That include deciding what themes to use for each of the trees spread throughout the facility.
“We have an arts and crafts class on Thursdays every week and the residents design our trees,” said Caldwell.
“This year the residents wanted a Grinch tree,” said Caldwell, describing how the residents created ornaments for their special tree.
“In craft class, they took the clear bulbs and put the sparkles and stuff inside them and we helped paint the faces on them. For this particular tree, they made all the Grinch balls that you see.”
A similar procedure took place for the Santa bulbs on the Father Christmas Tree.
“In the rec room, we have a Santa tree with a train set under the tree,” said Caldwell, who was appreciative of the ideas Stone brought to the center with her love of crafts.
“She starts them early on in September,” said Caldwell, “long before Christmas gets here. She does a good job letting them make their choices and adapting. I was really proud of that.”
Caldwell also was proud of the rehab staff who helped prepare for the holiday.
“The rehab department this year has a winter wonderland theme going on with snowmen, trees in the forest, snowflakes, etc.,” said Caldwell, noting the winter theme was carried through several areas of the facility.
“Everybody’s got the same thinking around here,” said Caldwell. She pointed out the resident doorways decorated with the winter theme as well as the facility living room.
“We’re not perfect, but we try so hard to keep our residents happy,” said Caldwell, describing several activities Chatham Nursing enjoys each December.
“The Activity Department has been busy,” she said. “We began with the Seniors on Stage performance, Christmas family/resident reception and also Santa photo shots in the lobby by the [nativity and bird] trees.”
Santa will return again on Friday, only this time he will be riding something other than a sleigh.
“Santa’s Harleys will ride in on December 22 following old Saint Nick himself who will be here to deliver gifts,” said Caldwell. She said residents look forward to the bikers’ visit each year.
“You should see them. You can hear the bikes coming. The residents all get their coats on and rush outside to see the bikes,” said Caldwell, whose face lit up in anticipation of the joy of her clients.
The residents also enjoy the variety of carolers who come to perform including Pleasant Hill Daycare and the Elkin High School Chorus.
“It’s all been possible by the giving and sharing community we serve in,” said Caldwell, who also credited Stone for creating the Christmas land enjoyed by residents and guests at Chatham Nursing and Rehab.
“Carol Stone is so talented and creative and is constantly trying to appease our wonderful residents. Carol puts in a lot of time to help prepare for some of the events to happen,” said Caldwell, “a lot of personal time. That is how dedicated she is to her residents.”
That dedication is shown primarily through allowing the residents to be involved with the planning and creation of the trees.
“I tell everybody, if they like something, I tell them, they told us what to do,” said Caldwell, claiming it doesn’t take much to help the elderly. “They just need you to be listening.”
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.