Friday, July 15, 2016

TOP STORY >> Birds raise spirits for residents

Leader staff writer

Chickens are helping to raise the spirits of residents living at nursing homes and rehab centers as therapy birds.

Marian Wade, who lives near Cabot, raises 35 chickens at her home. She has brought about eight of them to Woodland Hills Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Jacksonville and to Spring Creek Health and Rehab in Cabot for an hour one day every other week for the past year. Wade does this voluntarily.

Wade had chickens when she grew up and then started raising them again.

She said her chickens have helped her and her son with anxiety. She said that is when she realized her chickens could help others.

Last week at Woodland Hills Wade brought her chickens for a visit. Residents who wanted to see the chickens could go out to the courtyard. Some cradled the chickens and talked to them calmly as the birds relaxed and went to sleep. The chickens are accustomed to being held by Wade.

A few of the chickens hunted and pecked, scratching at the flowerbeds looking for bugs.

After handling the chickens Wade provided the residents with hand sanitizer.

“Chicken therapy is different for everybody. Some like to watch the chickens and others like to hold the chickens,” Wade said.

Woodland Hills activities director Tyler Foster said, “It gives them a sense of nostalgia. It takes them back to their younger years. A lot of the residents were raised on farms.”

“The seniors open up and start talking about their memories. It puts a lot of smiles on their faces. They are usually waiting on me when I get here,” Wade said.

Wade brings a variety of sizes and colors of chickens. Residents have given names to some of the chickens.

“I was raised on a farm. I remember chickens and they grew big,” resident DeQuita Burrow said.

“I think they are sweet little things,” Carol McCollough said.