Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I realize dementia is a devastating disease. I never mean to make light of that fact. Yet, I love working with those with dementia. They make me laugh, make me think, make me cry. I just love them and have no expectations of them ... those would have to change daily, as the sufferers do. I see them as very real, telling exactly what's on their minds. I love that.

I get to deal with dementia patients at my practicum. I used to work with them as a CNA for years, so it's fun to work with them as a Social Services Representative. One recent experience involved a woman recently admitted to the facility. She was confused about where she was. She wondered, out loud to me, why we didn't have a bracelet for her like they did at the hospital. I looked around the facility and found nothing even close to it. But I wanted her to realize where she was whenever she wanted to. I found a business card with the facility name on it and taped it to her "lap buddy" on her wheelchair. I left to do other business. At lunch time, I went to check on her and see how she liked her reminder. She had taken it off her lap buddy and was calmly using it as a toothpick. I loved it.

Another day I was down on the psych unit of the facility and one of the women was standing in her doorway, watching people walk by. The gerontologist and I stopped to say hello to her.

Gerontologist: Hi, Anne. How are you today?
Anne: (staring at me) Where'd you get that shirt?
Me: I don't recall. I've had it for quite some time.
Gerontologist: Yeah, you can see her coming down the hall, can't you?
Anne: (continued staring at my shirt)
Gerontologist: It's kind of psychadelic, isn't it?
Anne: (with great disgust) That's one word for it.

Isn't that awesome? I wondered how many other people hated my shirt but would never tell me. I much prefer the honesty of those without inhibition.



sarala said...

I have always figured it is like being a cat person or a dog person. I have infinite patience with kids but do poorly with the elderly. I don't know why that is--I consider it a character weakness that I get impatient with the old folks.
Of course kids will also bluntly comment on your clothes, appearance, personality, etc. A typical conversation with a polite, well brought up kid is: no offense, doctor, but I think this is a total waste of my time.

Jolynn said...

That is refreshing. Even if I hated your shirt I wouldn't tell you. In fact, I might say I liked it, just so you wouldn't think I hated it! :)

~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

That's cute. :-)

Jay said...

Obviously, dementia is nothing to laugh at, but I really think that peole who work with it day in and day out had better learn to see the lighter side of it, because life would be unbearably heavy if you couldn't laugh.

Skittles said...

Let's see a picture of that shirt.


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