June 4, 2011

Joy, Love and Nursing Homes

Posted in Adult, Local, Local Author, Non-fiction, San Juan Island at 5:15 pm by bhelstien

JOY: Living in a Nursing Home

Jean Hendrickson's book about her life at the Life Care Center

JOY – Living In A Nursing Home, by Jean Hendrickson, © 2011

Jean Hendrickson has published another book from her room in the nursing home at on Spring Street. She writes with honesty and directness about her decision to give up her independence and move into a skilled nursing facility. Her message might be surprising to many readers, because she proclaims that the decision was not difficult and the outcome is entirely rewarding.

I’ve been visiting the Life Care Center in Friday Harbor every week for almost ten years now. I bring books, magazines and movies from the public library to folks who want them, and the library offers a program where I read aloud. When I first became the outreach librarian this was the most intimidating aspect of my job. I didn’t know how to relate to people with dementia. Over the years, I’ve really come to appreciate the support residents each other regardless of their challenges. The staff working at the center set this standard with their gentle, consistent caring. Their love really opened my heart –making it easier for me to provide library service to this diverse group of people with a wide range of cognitive strengths.

I know that the materials the library provides, the large print books, cassette tapes, CDs and movies, make a difference in the quality of life for many of the residents. Because I have the privilege of working one-on-one with anyone who wants to see “the library lady” I can find out what kind of stories interest them and what format will best meet their needs. With books and stories, someone feeling trapped inside a nursing home or a wheelchair can travel freely in his or her mind, and in spite of physical circumstances, can continue to grow and enjoy life.

Jean Hendrickson is a rare elder who writes with grace about aging. Other residents at the center have other gifts: remembering poems, singing or sharing memorable histories. April is National Volunteer Month, and the convalescent center, with all the love flowing is a great place to volunteer.

Jean Hendrickson’s book might help a senior you know facing a tough choice. It might help the family of an aged parent when facing planning for the care of their loved one. You might learn that you yourself want to join the community of residents, staff and volunteers that make up the Life Care Center of the San Juans. I am grateful my work takes me there.

JOY – Living In A Nursing Home, like all books reviewed in this column, may be found at the San Juan Island Library.

May 2, 2009

Dream with a child: The Land of Smaerd

Posted in Children, Fiction, Local, Stories tagged , , at 6:29 pm by bhelstien

book cover of the Land of Smaerd

book cover of the Land of Smaerd

© 2008 Beth Helstien

The Land of Smaerd © 2008 by Know Wonder Publishing, Written by Andrea Von Botefuhr, Illustrated by Bryn Barnard

An imaginative child, a child with nightmares, a child with large ambitions, a playful child, all with enjoy this adventure into the land of dreams spelled backwards. A lovely book to share for the detail of the vibrant color illustrations by local artist Barnard. It’s a literal and metaphoric rhyming story of dreams: both what happens at night, and things we wish for.

The Land of Smaerd, like all books reviewed here, may be found at the San Juan Island Library.