Hi! My name is Beth, and I am the Founder of Senior Delight and a self-proclaimed “Old Person Whisperer”. My background is a bit circuitous, but I’d summarize it by saying that the consistent link has been a love for seniors and a passion to ease suffering and inspire joy.
Shockingly enough, I’m traditionally trained as a dentist, and I have worked as a geriatric dentist for the past seven years using mobile equipment to serve residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or those whom couldn’t leave their private homes. What I have been most surprised by in my work at nursing homes is the number of "false emergencies" I would have. For the most part in private practice, no patients "like" going to the dentist. But in these environments, I would get requests to see a patient for "emergent pain or issues" all the time. When I would go see the patients, I would find that there was no issue, there was no pain. What I gradually came to realize was that what most people would consider to be scary or unpleasant, a visit from the dentist was actually a happy experience or positive highlight in the monotonous days of these elders who were lonely, sad, or just plain bored. They were so grateful to have someone who cared about them come and visit.
Important side note, this is by no means an effort to discredit the families and friends who work tirelessly to support these lovely patients. I’ve seen first hand what it takes to be a caregiver, as my ever-inspiring mother has been a caretaker to multiple grandparents, elderly family members, neighbors; shoot, I’m sure she’d take care of the mailman if he needed it. ;) But from watching her as well as the families in the nursing homes, I understand the role of “caregiver” can be tremendously burdensome. Family caregiving goes beyond the physical help, but often includes being a healthcare advocate, chauffer, errand runner, entertainer, communicator/ interpreter, financial planner, chef, among so many other roles. And if that caregiver has a family and full schedule of his or her own, there can be a feeling of hopelessness or perpetual exhaustion that can make the caregiver feel really lonely too.
So early on in my experience with seniors, I started seeking additional avenues beyond dentistry to improve the lives of these patients and help support caregivers in their efforts to support these patients. Thus began what has now been a 5-year-long collaboration with various medtech companies in research programs associated with patients who have Parkinson's disease, ALS, and dementia. I have been working with international medical device manufacturers, the National Institutes of Health, and health tech startups to develop solutions for comorbidity management in an aging population. Basically, I am tremendously motivated to help improve these outcomes, so I’m going to attack it with passion from all possible angles.
So how does this all equate to a subscription gift box? Well, I'm confident that over the next two decades we will see extraordinary improvements in the healthcare space that will revolutionize the way we experience aging, and I am so grateful to be a part of that future. But over the past year, I recognized that I am not satisfied with just contributing to a future change. I want to help improve the lives of those who are sitting in a nursing home today, those who are home alone and aren’t receiving the inspiration and stimulation they need to stay vibrant and joyful. And I want to do it with something more effective than a false emergency dental visit.
I had been brainstorming various ideas, products, and services that could add value to the lives of these elders. But it wasn't until I attended a Tony Robbins event in early 2018 that I had the idea for this subscription-based service. If unfamiliar with Tony Robbins, he is an internationally renowned life coach who puts on live events for 12,000+ people at a time. These events challenge and energize people to make inspired changes towards a greater purpose. He has identified basic human needs in all cultures to include sentiments of security, excitement, human connection, significance, growth, and opportunities to give back; he also emphasizes the importance of “you are the company you keep”. While my experience was extraordinary, I couldn’t help but think to myself: "Ya know what the complete opposite experience of a Tony Robbins event is? A freaking nursing home!"
More often than not, these residents are facing end-of-life quandaries; their independence is waning, and so they can develop feelings of depression, loneliness, or hopelessness. Even if someone moves in who still has a vibrant spirit and sharp mind, what do you think will happen if they are surrounded by severely demented, limited peers? Even those elders who just retire and live at home, they are challenged with the idea of shifting their purpose in life, not having something to wake up and inspire them to be somewhere, learn something, or help someone. But it doesn't have to be that way! And that's where our box comes in. :)
It may take more effort or creativity, but we can absolutely create an experience for our elders that reminds them that they are loved, that they are important, that they can still grow and learn, and that they still have a lot to give and contribute to those around them.
"To the world, you may be one person; but to one person, you may be the world." -Dr. Seuss
"Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, & most underrated agent of human change." - Bob Kerrey
"Give everyday the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life." - Mark Twain