Hearts always play a role

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James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor
James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor

It's true that sometimes life's best pleasures are life's simplest pleasures.

Take yesterday. Think of treats for the kids. Make sure the wife gets a card, favorite munchies and, oh yes, that night out not long ago. Valentine's Day needs are taken care of just fine with a little advance planning.

But then the best part came at night. Yes, I'm talking about (you REALLY think we're going there with this family-oriented website?!) … the unexpected visit to the nearest skilled nursing facility. True story.

It happened with Son No. 2, who is a member of the local Animal Education and Rescue group. Its kids club takes pets on tour of the local SNF's resident rooms once a month. Last night was it for February, so I tagged along.

Talk about a sweet treat. You can't call me a convert to “pet therapy,” as the group director calls it, much to the kids' delight. That would imply I didn't believe in pet therapy in the first place. I always have. Just generally from afar.

In short, it was wonderful evening. We walked the halls of the three-story building like trick-or-treaters, only this time with the kids giving out the treats: stuffed animals until they ran out and Valentine's Day cards for anyone in sight. They also asked residents if they wanted to meet Sammy or Sparkler (the rabbits) or Scamp (the bichon mix), Piper (the beagle) or Max (the dachshund mix). Somewhat poetically, many of the residents already were watching the Westminster Kennel Show in their rooms when we strolled by. A stroke of a rabbit's fur, a scratch behind a pooch's ears. Even the simplest touch was enough to soothe and put smiles on faces.

In the end, it was a shame we couldn't spend more time with them. So many of the people (residents and their family members) were grateful for visitors, two- and four-legged alike.

But bedtimes and, for at least some in our group, homework still beckoned. We had to leave.

Until next month.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.