Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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April 21, 2013

04/21/2013— Lee Ward: Looking forward to crafts in old age

ASHLAND — My recent trip to Hilton Head wasn’t glamorous or especially exciting, but it was worth the drive to visit with family, and this time I’m referring to family I like.

The trip tested my relationship with cousin Bob and his wife, Toy. We were in a car together for nine hours down and nine hours back and we still love each other. There was no screaming, cursing, hitting or throwing things, either.

While there was no rain, it was unseasonably cold, so getting on the beach wasn’t any fun. Besides, we weren’t there for a tan. We were there to visit Aunt Helen and Uncle Roy, who had moved into an assisted living facility since we had seen them last.

It’s a difficult adjustment for them, transitioning from a five-bedroom house to a one-bedroom apartment. Suddenly, instead of being a 10-minute walk from their only grandchild, they’re an hour’s drive from him. Instead of having full responsibility for the maintenance of their house, the paying of their bills and the preparation of their meals, they have nothing to do but enjoy life. That’s the part I could get into.

However, they are adapting, and Aunt Helen is doing especially well.

As she strolls down the hall with her walker to the dining room, she stops to visit with everyone. She knows what their pressing problems are and what their interests are. Sometimes, she puts her walker aside to help someone else wrap up a chore or carry something extra. She does so well without the walker, sometimes she forgets about it.

Once seated in the dining room, Helen greets other residents as they enter. She saves the sports section of the paper for Ed, who’s a big baseball fan, and asks about Betty’s daughter, who comes to visit regularly.

But Helen really shines after lunch when it’s time for crafts.

“She’s got the best dexterity,” Jaziel, the leader of craft activities, said. “That’s why I have her doing all the cutting.”

During my stay, which was the week before Easter, the crafters put together Easter baskets and made necklaces for a group of children who were coming to perform and to participate in an Easter egg hunt.

I even got to make a necklace using Shrinky Dinks, a childhood favorite that I’d never had the chance to play with. (Shrinky Dinks are sheets of plastic that can be cut into various shapes and sizes and colored before putting into a hot oven where they will thicken and shrink.)

Not only was visiting Helen and Roy fun, it opened my eyes to the fun you can have at an assisted living facility. I hope I get there someday and I hope they have Shrinky Dinks.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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