Residents of Emporia Place Assisted Living Community had some special visitors in observation of Grandparents’ Day Monday morning.

Emporia Christian School preschoolers, along with teacher Virginia Parscal, came over to sing and read books with residents as part of a longstanding relationship between the school and the assisted living community.

“I’ve been teaching at Emporia Christian School for 16 years and we’ve been coming here for many, many years, once a month or so,” Parscal said. “My kids, as you can see, really thoroughly enjoy shaking hands, singing, stories and everything.”

Parscal said she plans to bring her class over to Emporia Place for more visits throughout the school year.

Jennifer Ortiz, life enrichment coordinator for Emporia Place, said she loved seeing the faces of her residents light up when the children walked in for the morning. It’s a good experience, both for the elderly and the children, she said.

“It’s important for the children because a lot of times, for children, it’s important to start them at an early age interacting with older adults who might have dementia or Alzheimer’s,” she said. “Sometimes we might find it hard to communicate with people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, but starting from an early age and interacting and talking can help potentially open up the way so they can feel comfortable enough to talk with someone who might be suffering.

“It’s good for our residents because they just love children. Almost everyone came out today. It’s just really good for them, because a lot of times they don’t get to see their own grandchildren with kids being in school and families don’t always have the time to come and visit. This is a good opportunity for them to be able to interact with children and it really brightens their day.”

The smiles on faces both young and old were hard to miss.

Resident Velma Peak and her companion dog, Lucy, both enjoyed spending time with the preschool class.

“It was fun having them here to show off,” she said. “It takes our minds off of ourselves, watching the little youngsters perform. Watching them show off is real fine.”

Peak said she is lucky to have nine grandchildren that she gets to see often, too.

“They are all very special,” she said.

Nancy Alamo, one of Emporia Place’s resident ambassadors, said having children come in was always a treat.

“It’s beneficial for both kids and us,” she said. “I think it brings us a little breath of fresh air. I’m sure everyone enjoyed it.”

To thank the children for visiting, residents made sun catchers out of mason jar lids. Alamo said the craft was one of the neat ways Ortiz has come up with to get the residents engaged.

“It was a lot of fun,” Alamo said. “I think the residents, when you put all of these pencils down in front of them and this picture they’re just, ‘What are we supposed to do?’ But, Jennifer is busy as a cranberry merchant, and I guess they are pretty busy. She was able to go from table to table to rescue us and show us what to do. I loved doing mine.”

The activity is part of a full schedule for residents and staff at the home during National Assisted Living Week.

Ortiz said today Emporia Place staff will be recognized with a mini-spa day, including hand massages.

On Wednesday, Ortiz said they have partnered with PT Associates of Emporia Owner Greg Bachman to bring in a speaker to talk about the importance of physical activity.

The community will host its Family Fun night from 6 - 7 p.m. Thursday, complete with a bouncy house for kids to enjoy. Families are asked to bring photos to create a family tree with their loved ones.

On Friday, the week will conclude with a milkshake party at 1:30 p.m. Ice cream for the milkshakes is being provided by Angels Care Home Health.

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