After five years of participating in Adopt a Grandparent Day, Daisy McCarroll and members of the Biloxi High School Campus Service Council still delight in making seniors smile.
As a sponsor of the club, McCarroll saw how beneficial the pairing could be for both the students and nursing home residents at Brookdale Biloxi.
“We got involved because it’s a great opportunity for our students to give back to their community and to gain appreciation and insight for their elders,” says McCarroll, whose husband and son also have joined the effort.
VISIT. CHERISH. CELEBRATE.
Falling annually on the second Saturday of September, Adopt A Grandparent Day mobilizes hundreds of volunteers to visit nursing homes throughout South Mississippi. Kathy Rogers, vice president of Marston Rogers Group, launched the initiative in 2014 with the purpose of honoring, celebrating and cherishing seniors. Rogers was inspired to uplift the elderly population after her mother fell in 2013 and went through 30 days of rehabilitation at a nursing home.
“I remember seeing my mom the next day, and she was crying,” Rogers recalls in a blog on www.adoptagrandparentday. org. “She said she thought we weren’t coming back for her.”
That experience is not unique, as studies show that approximately 20 percent of nursing home residents have major depression, and 30 percent have significant depressive symptoms. In 2022 alone, Adopt a Grandparent Day helped lift the spirits of nearly 1,500 area seniors.
Jessica Murray, resident activities coordinator with Brookdale Biloxi, calls the event “an amazing experience” for all involved.
“Residents who normally stay tucked away in their rooms come out and participate; the kids hang encouraging signs all around the dining room and take time from their day to connect with and love on our residents,” she says. “I have never seen more smiles from them since I’ve been working here.”
This year’s event is on Sept. 9, and volunteers will visit approximately 40 facilities in six counties.
McCarroll and the students have formed friendships with residents at Brookdale Biloxi, and they even plan an additional visit at Christmastime. The most rewarding part, she says, is simply listening to the seniors and hearing their life stories.
“One of the most memorable moments was this past year,” McCarroll says. “One of the residents was speaking with one of my club members for some time. When I stopped to check in on them, the resident broke down and said the student reminded her of her son that had passed away.”
For previous visits, band members have brought their instruments to entertain the residents, created a banner and joined in several other activities with the seniors. McCarroll says they plan to play Bingo this time, which brings out the residents’ competitive spirit, in addition to crafts, puzzles and music.
“The feedback from the students was extremely positive,” she adds. “We continue to participate in the event because we gain more than we give.”
WANT TO HELP?
To learn more about Adopt a Grandparent Day, donate and get involved, visit www.adoptagrandparentday.org.