Published on October 16, 2015

Living LIFE in full bloom

Brightening seniors days through gardening.

Harry HallIf you paid a visit to Mercy LIFE’s Sharon Hill center this summer, you would have seen dozens of marigolds, geraniums and petunias in bloom. Not only did they likely brighten your day, they’ve brightened the outlook of Harry Hall, 87, who planted those flowers in the spring.

“This garden has given him a purpose in life,” says his daughter, Karen O’Hara, BSN, RN, a longtime nurse with Mercy Home Health. “He wants to work and feel valued.”

As Harry says simply, “I like to pitch in.”

A green thumb

A LIFE participant since 2014, Harry’s memory isn’t what it once was. He has vascular dementia, which causes him to get confused, and he sometimes struggles to find words.

Still, “He has a great green thumb and a passion for planting,” says Karen. So the daughter and dad teamed up to beautify Sharon Hill’s grounds, including a vegetable garden. Though Karen pitched in, Harry did most of the work.

“The staff fully embraced his love of gardening,” says Karen. “He’s never gotten so many pats on the back and such affirmation saying ‘you’re doing a good job’.”

“My dad’s face lights up when he talks about the people there.”
—Karen O’Hara

That chance to interact with others is a key reason Karen and Harry turned to Mercy LIFE. Because it was no longer safe for him to drive, Harry left his apartment—where he still lives independently—less and was alone more.

“I know he needed the stimulation of other people, cognitively and emotionally,” Karen says. And Sharon Hill provided that.

Positive changes

As a Mercy employee, Karen was very familiar with Mercy LIFE and all it offers—from on-site medical care to recreational programs.

“But while I knew the staff was caring, I didn’t know how much,” she says.

And she can’t say enough about all the positive changes she’s seen in her dad since he began coming to Sharon Hill each week. “He talks more easily. He’s a little less forgetful,” she says. “And he’s brighter. My dad’s face lights up when he talks about the people there.”