The resident relations coordinator of Heaton Place Retirement Community in Armstrong, Carrie O’Neill, explores the power of storytelling in her latest column. (Contributed)

The resident relations coordinator of Heaton Place Retirement Community in Armstrong, Carrie O’Neill, explores the power of storytelling in her latest column. (Contributed)

Benefits of storytelling boost quality of life for Armstrong seniors

Heaton Place resident relations coordinator looks at the benefits sharing seniors’ stories has

As the resident relations coordinator at Heaton Place Retirement Community, I am gifted with the opportunity to work one-on-one with our residents to ensure they are managing well and receiving all the services they need as they age in place.

Aside from other responsibilities, one of the most cherished parts of my work is holding space for our seniors to allow them to share their life stories.

Little did I know Heaton Place would be the channel through which my passion to share and write stories would come to life.

There is a growing body of evidence that sharing and recording stories is beneficial for seniors. While it’s not formally recognized therapy, it is a powerful medicine for all who are involved in the process.

One resident said, “This experience nudged me to stop and recall past memories; it was exciting.”

Another said, “It felt good and was even relaxing; I even had some of my grandchildren call me up after asking more questions!”

We really have no idea how our stories can impact others. Sharing stories with staff and fellow residents in senior living facilities not only helps seniors to preserve memories and be a part of a community, but it can provide better avenues for care and more rewarding living as well.

Stories allow staff to become better acquainted with those they serve as it helps to better understand them as people.

This, in turn, allows staff to develop more meaningful relationships with residents; moreover, it is a tool to create more meaningful and personal conversations with their fellow neighbours.

I have noticed that as we journey through their story they begin to show a sense of hope; the lights come on in their eyes. It is so heart-warming.

Some of the residents who have shared their stories were reconnected with friends from the past. Some other benefits of our seniors sharing their stories are to improve cognition, lessen depression and improve behavioral functioning.

In essence, telling stories allows seniors to retain their memories and relate to other seniors, staff, family and members of the community.

The net result is better senior living!

We are located in the small community of Armstrong and, with that, comes small community living; some of our residents even went to school together.

They have common interests and shared experiences which create an environment of unity. Although we are nested in a small rural community, we are only 15 minutes away from all the amenities of Vernon.

There is a sense of country living and cosiness at Heaton Place. The smell of home-cooked meals wavers throughout the building, the fireplace brings a warm feeling, and the residents are usually gathered around playing cards or just enjoying a visit with one another.

We are family.

The staff brings their hearts to work, not just their wonderful abilities.

With only 76 suites, the personal touch is much more reachable; friendships are more easily made, and needs are met.

We offer all-inclusive service packages with no hidden cost.

The suites are beautiful and spacious with full kitchens.

Housekeeping visits our resident’s suites on a weekly basis to clean and also launder their linens, and we have an in house doctor.

There are many perks to calling Heaton Place home – most important is our seniors are cared for with compassionate hearts..

In closing, I want to thank my employer for giving me the opportunity to make a difference at Heaton Place. In so doing, my life has been enriched – through stories and service. Thank you!

This article was contributed by Heaton Place Retirement Community resident relations coordinator Carrie O’Neill.

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