When Vickie Rodgers wanted to bring her grandchildren to the senior living community where she works, she knew she needed to prepare them. Being an educator herself, she looked for books about visiting care centers and senior living communities but didn’t find anything that would help. So, she decided to write her own. As a Community Clinical Educator at Meridian Village, a Lutheran Senior Services Life Plan Community in Glen Carbon, Illinois, Rodgers is in a unique position to be able to write this book.
“I’ve been wanting to write this book for about six years,” explained Rodgers. “But it really came to my heart when my grandchildren started to visit a special friend of mine here at Meridian Village – Ms. Ruby. I saw how they interacted with her and how they talked about her after we left.”
To prepare her grandchildren for visiting residents at the Meridian Village Care Center, Rodgers explained to them what they might see there. For example, she talked about how some of the people use wheelchairs or other equipment for getting around. This memory is one of the first scenes in the book, which is titled Ms. Ruby and the Gigi Squad: Friendship Comes in All Ages.
“What people don’t realize is how much life is at a senior living community,” added Rodgers. “It’s not like those awful stereotypes at all!”
Ever since that first visit, Rodgers’s grandchildren and Ms. Ruby have formed a special bond. So, a story about their friendship is a perfect example to encourage more adults to bring the children in their lives to visit older adults – whether in a senior living setting or an older adult neighbor down the street.
“I’m hoping that parents and grandparents will read book to their children and grandchildren and take it a step further,” explained Rodgers about her hopes for her book. “We need adults to teach children to appreciate older adults. When kids walk in here at Meridian Village, residents just light up.”
Rodgers and her grandchildren have created their own activities with residents at Meridian Village. They had a tea party with Ms. Ruby. They’ve played the piano for residents. These events and others are depicted in Rodgers’s book.
Always looking for a teaching opportunity, Rodgers has included her grandchildren in the process of creating this book. She’s currently working with an illustrator and letting her grandchildren see the illustrations and provide suggestions. She’s also working closely with Ms. Ruby, admittedly the star of the story, who had one request: To be sure to include Rodgers’s grandson’s dimples.
Rodgers is planning for a fall release of the book. To follow progress of this true labor of love, follow the book’s Facebook page.