In a community like Fredericton we often take for granted how privileged we are to live in such a generous, considerate and friendly city, three traits that make up the definition of kindness. Simply walking downtown street you can't help but notice these small acts of kindness that our community is full of, whether it's someone holding holding the door for a stranger, someone nodding a hello or just giving a smile, kindness is all around us. This past week we were able to appreciate the kindness already happening in our city and to be inspired to create acts of kindness ourselves.
We had the honour of participating in Fredericton Kindness Week from November 2nd to November 9th, an event presented by the Fredericton Community Foundation to celebrate kindness. They invited Fredericton businesses, non-profits and individuals to participate in acts of kindness and to simply share these acts on social media in celebration. The results were truly wonderful to see!
We started Kindness Week by ending our own work week Friday afternoon at Graystone Brewing for their Kindness Week Kickoff Party. It was great to see fellow teams, businesses and individuals like ours getting together and getting excited about the week to come. It was easy to see kindness being spread at this event and the others to follow throughout the week.
At Person Centred Universe we believe in a better world for those affected by dementia, and we couldn't think of a better way to achieve this than through acts of kindness. So we teamed up this past week to preform acts of kindness for people in our community, who are affected by dementia. We came up with a few different ways we can incorporate kindness into our daily lives that will positively affect this community.
We spent the evening Sunday working together as a team to make meals and baked goods for caregivers in our community who we believe deserve a little kindness and compassion. People who are caring for someone with dementia are often just trying to ‘put one foot in front of the other’, therefore finding time for meal preparation and things like Christmas baking is often not a reality. This was not only a great bonding experience as a team, but for a relatively small amount of our time, it meant a few caregivers in our community were able to benefit as well. We often see the act of cooking meals for people done in times of need and hardship, but this is something that can easily be done on a day to day basis help out a family caregiver who may be busy and who could use a helping hand, even though they may not reach out to ask.
On Monday we thought about bringing kindness into our long term care homes. With busy work and home schedules, not everyone is able to volunteer their time, but giving a small gift to a well deserving person living in a nursing home can make a big difference. We suggested mixing it up and donating a haircut! Everyone enjoys and deserves to look and feel their best, and a haircut or style can be something simple that can do just that! Due to financial constraints and the cost of living in Long Term Care, our older adults in New Brunswick who are living in care often have a minimal personal 'allowance' they receive each month - a mere $108! This covers things like cable TV or satellite, if you live in a rural home, telephone service, medications that aren't covered by medicare, outings haircuts and clothing. A simple way to make a huge impact for someone living in long term care is to call and donate the funds to pay for a haircut for a resident! There are many long term care homes in our community and others that would be grateful to accept this gift!
On Tuesday we had the privilege of dropping off our baked meals and deserts to a few members in our community that are affected by dementia! Not only did we feel great connecting with these people, but something as basic as a home cooked meal can also mean a lot to the person receiving it!
This made us think of a few other ways you can give back to someone who's caring for a loved one:
• Give them a call and ask them how they're doing. What challenges they're facing, and how they or their loved one is doing. With the hustle and bustle of life, sometimes we forget to do something as simple as check-in, ask someone if they need a hand and remind them that you're thinking of them
• Come by with one of their favorite foods cooked and ready to go. The effort it takes to think of a wholesome meal, let alone have time to rush to the grocery store after work and cook it while keeping up with the rest of the day and family commitments, would mean the world to someone.
• Offer to drive them to an appointment, or pick up their groceries for them.
• Drop by and spend an hour visiting, or, for a care partner, give them a few hours of your time to visit with their loved one who's living with dementia and give the care partner much needed quality time to visit the hairdresser they've been trying to book an appointment with for a month, get a pedicure, massage, or anything else they've been putting off doing. It's a win-win! The care partner gets to spend a bit of time doing their own self care, and the individual who's living with dementia gets to visit with someone they care about and catch up!
On Wednesday we wanted to find a way bring kindness to some of the hardest working people we know, caregivers; and in particular, caregivers in long term care. We cannot recognize and commend all of the amazing formal care providers in our community enough. These dedicated individuals work day-in and day-out to provide quality care to our friends and loved ones. We thank you for everything that you do - your hard work does not go unnoticed. A simple and easy idea of being kind to these caring individuals is to bring a cup of coffee or a tea and some treats from their favorite coffee shop to your local nursing home or memory care home. This is an excellent way to demonstrate your appreciation to the staff for all their tireless work. It’s a simple act, but it goes a long way!
Thursday, we took the time ourselves to reflect about the journeys people with dementia are on and the challenges that sometimes come with that. Our motto has always been about making the world a better place for those affected by dementia, one person at a time; through one act of kindness at a time. Begin with educating yourself about dementia to help foster this compassion for people walking a journey that is not always understood. A great resource to begin with is the Alzheimer Society of Canada's website: www.alzheimer.ca !
And finally on Friday after a week of being inspired by the posts of fellow businesses in our community, we wanted to share a very powerful video by the Alzheimer Society of UK about small changes that can make your community more dementia friendly. Although when we think of people living with dementia, we often think that they live in our long term care homes, the majority of people living with dementia are living at home with various levels of support. In fact, research states that approximately 261,000 people living with dementia in Canada are currently living in our communities . They get their own groceries, ride public transit, do their banking, and enjoy immersing themselves in their communities. If you are a business owner or operator, or even as a service provider for someone else's business, consider small acts of kindness and compassion that you could incorporate into your interactions with customers, many of whom could be living with dementia or caring for a loved one with dementia. Watch it below!
This week has shown us the kindness that is already in our community and is in all of us, sometimes we just need an excuse to celebrate and recognize it. Fredericton Kindness Week has not only celebrated acts of kindness happening already, but has inspired kindness all around our community. It has been wonderful taking the time to not only be kind to others, but to appreciate the impact even the simplest acts can make. We hope you take the time to do even one act of kindness for people affected by dementia we have mentioned this week and that this kindness can expand past this week and into the whole year.
Happy Kindness Week!