Senior Connections Senior Connections Aug. 2018 - Page 6

CHANGING DIRECTIONS from Pg 2 One late night, when sleep refused to come, she said she was lying in bed and the word “elderly” came strongly into her mind. Awake and alert after that, she went immediately to her computer and searched for jobs that served the el- derly. Two jobs appealed to her – both of them in the fi eld of activity programming for seniors. She applied then and there. New opportunities beckon Glessing remembers feeling amazed that both em- ployers called her back right away. Both wanted to meet with her, and both of the interviews were scheduled for the same day. And then she received two job offers – both on the same day. She made a diffi cult decision, and decided to go to work for Augustana Lakeside Apart- ments in Dassel, where her title is activities director. In her new position, she reports directly to the facili- ties manager, Deb Seberg, who has a degree and back- ground in social work and whom Glessing describes as “a fi recracker.” She also describes Seberg as a very sup- portive manager who shares Glessing’s goals to see the residents enjoying life and being engaged, happy, and “never bored.” She has introduced a variety of new activities and has been told that some of the residents that she now sees regularly never used to come out of their rooms. She prints four-color, creatively designed, 8-by-17- inch calendars for each month, and the calendars are chock-full of events to appeal to a wide variety of inter- ests and tastes. There are morning and afternoon coffee hours, often with attendance by Dassel community members; root beer fl oats, ice cream socials, church services recorded weekly by the local churches, live Masses and commu- nion services, bingo (very popular), Wii bowling, game and card-playing sessions, sing-alongs, and crafts. Glessing periodically leads devotion hours, a natural fi t after her volunteer work writing weekly devotions for the St. James Church bulletin for many years. She credits a large number of dedicated volunteers for bringing much of the variety and some special services to center tenants. In addition to a priest and pastor, dif- ferent men from the Dassel community often drop in to share the men’s Monday coffee hour. A dedicated woman from the community comes every Saturday for “walk and talk” sessions for those who enjoy sharing a chat while getting some exercise. And, another devoted volunteer provides free manicures once per month. It’s a loving and generous-hearted group, among which Glessing feels very at home. Nothing learned is ever lost When asked about the similarities between teaching second grade and working with seniors, she cited sever- al: her assisted living tenants also have a fairly short at- tention span and are intrigued by opportunities to learn, share, and do something different. There also some differences. Seniors may be dealing with a number of physical limitations, including loss of hearing or sight, or loss of physical strength or fl exibil- ity. Glessing has found that her teaching experience, her degree in physical education, and her past experience in adaptive physical education for some of her former stu- dents have all come in handy. ‘ . . . if a door has been closed, never quit looking for the open window’ – Marnie Glessing Tenant ages range from 70 to 103, although Glessing stated that, in her experience, age is not a reliable in- dicator of individual capabilities or mental and physi- cal strengths. Everyone is different, and it is her goal to make sure that no one is “just sitting around” for lack of something interesting to do. Doing God’s work and the gift of sharing One event she is particularly proud of organizing is the center’s celebration of Flag Day. To start, Gless- ing called the local American Legion and asked if they might have someone who could come and speak to the seniors about the meaning and importance of Flag Day. She was overwhelmed when not one, but nine Legion members came to the center. It was a hit with the residents and many from both ����������������������������������������� ����������� �������������� ������������������������������������������������������������ 6 Senior Connections August 2018 the assisted living and the adjacent care center attended. The American Legion members gave a presentation on the meaning of Flag Day, and then spent some time talking about their personal military experiences. This inspired many of the tenants to share what their own military experiences had been. Glessing said she feels it was a high point for them to share their experiences, to be recogn