Caring for Seniors With Tulips and Sparks

The tulip is a classic flower symbolizing love, royalty, abundance and prosperity. The Dutch actually popularized the tulip considering it a reminder of how brief life can be. The brevity of life is why sparks are so important. Perhaps it’s why random acts of kindness are popping up everywhere lately leaving the beholder with an unexpected feeling of joy. Born from these gestures of kindness is a ‘spark’ that may hold more value than the gesture itself.

That was true for tenants at Oak Meadows who received a purple tulip ‘just because’ earlier this week. Oak Meadows and Lifesprk teams delivered 150 purple tulips in a ‘Random Act of Sparking’ at the senior living community. “It left me with an amazing feeling to see each face immediately light up when we gave them the tulip,” said Kristin Cramer, RN, Lifesprk Director of Life Care at Oak Meadows. “It shows that simple actions elicit powerful reactions.”

Sparking lives though is more than just a kind gesture, it has health benefits, too. Research shows that 90% of the factors that shape poor health outcomes are due to reasons other than healthcare with the largest being behavioral patterns.  According to Dr. Randy Cohen, a cardiologist at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in NYC, people with a high sense of purpose are less likely to have a stroke, heart attack or coronary artery disease requiring a stent or bypass surgery. What sparks you or the lack of spark, is just as important in your senior care plan as the medications you take to keep you healthy. And yet few options exist to address the full scope of challenges many seniors face beyond just physical.  When left unchecked, these challenges can lead to frequent ER visits and hospitalization, putting seniors onto the roller coaster of readmissions costing our society in multiple ways.

It’s why Lifesprk nurses put so much effort into sparking lives. They’ve seen firsthand what happens when you focus on the senior – their purpose and passion, not their medical diagnosis. Sparking lives contributes to purposeful aging.  “We’ve witnessed seniors becoming more engaged, needing less care and an increase in their independence,” said Kristin. “They often need reminders that the spark is there, whether it’s painting, sliding down a waterslide, flying toy airplanes or receiving a tulip. We need to help provide opportunities to unleash their spark because it matters to their overall wellbeing.”

Perhaps it is fitting then that the tulip was the choice for the ‘random act of sparking.’ Marianne Williamson, author and spiritual activist shared that the message of the tulip is this: “A tulip doesn’t strive to impress anyone. It doesn’t struggle to be different than a rose. It doesn’t have to. It is different. As long as they’re unselfconsciously being themselves, they can’t help but shine.”

Our clients are still shining days after receiving their tulip, with an abundance of spark.