Nursing home residents share wisdom for the younger generation as the pandemic continues

YAKIMA, Wash. — In celebration of National Skilled Nursing Care Center Week, a Yakima nursing home is asking its residents to share wisdom with the younger generation, gained from their decades of experience.

“We can spend years slowly gaining the experience and making the same mistakes on our own, or we can draw on the wisdom of those who’ve already been down the same road,” Good Samaritan Health Care Center officials said in a social media post.

Cleo Ritchie, 73, has been staying at the center for a little over two months, during which dozens of residents and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

Ritchie said she’s been able to make the best of the situation.

“I’ve always been like a strong person and very independent,” Ritchie said. “So when this happened to me, I just took it as it is.”

Growing up, Ritchie’s father was in the Navy and her mother worked full-time to help support the family, leaving Ritchie to take care of her two younger sisters.

“I was brought up that way, to be really independent because we never had a lot when we were growing up,”  Ritchie said.

Ritchie started her first babysitting job when she was 12 years old and has been working ever since. She’s spent the past 50 years working in restaurants and bars,.

For almost 20 years, she’s worked at the Roslyn Eagles in Kittitas County, a job she hopes to get back to when she leaves the center next month.

“I worked all my life so I kind of miss that; I miss the people,” Ritchie said. “That’s my worst thing. I miss being in contact with my customers.”

Ritchie said she misses her family dearly, though she talks to them regularly. She misses her dogs.

Scrolling through Facebook, however, Ritchie is comforted by the families she sees bonding through the crisis.

“They do things together instead of being on their devices,” Ritchie said. ““To me, that’s the best part, seeing people together.”

So what’s Ritchie’s advice for the younger generation?

“We’ll get through it together. Just do what you have to do.”

Here’s what advice other residents at Good Samaritan Health Care Center offered up for the younger generation:

  • “Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice when you need it.” — Dorothy Johnson, 93
  • “I don’t give people advice. They should be able to figure it out.” — Rosaline Eneas, 86
  • “No matter how dark the clouds, the sun will shine another time, so in your struggles, love God and your friends – you will rise.” — “Putt” Putman, 85
  • “In our situation, have kindness and compassion for everyone.” — Linda Paquin, 80
  • “Be good to 99-year-old people. Treat everyone good, not just your friends.” — Dorothy W., 99
  • “Follow a good diet. Exercise. Be a good, humble person.” — Leroy Defries, 84
  • “Stay well and healthy. I love you all very much.” — Rosemarie, 87
  • “Love life.” — Leona, 89
  • “Pay your parents back.” — Lee, 81
  • “Do the best that you can. Make sure to help others.  Don’t be on your phone all of the time.” — Lorene Clark, 90
  • “Trust in the Lord and do good to everyone.” — Nargis, 86
  • “Always have fun.” — Joanne, 64