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"That's me!" Dad cheerfully exclaims. The aide could have said, "It's time to go to the bathroom," or simply gotten him up without acknowledging his presence - but she didn’t.
Instead, she chooses to bring a little joy to his day.
Relating to an Alzheimer's patient, especially one in the later stages of the disease, is not the easiest task. Those who go the extra mile and find ways to enter into their patient's world are beautiful examples of love in action. Dad and I were slowly lumbering down the hallway with the assistance of a walker, a gait belt, and another aide. A younger gentleman approached my father and asked, "Will you be joining us this evening for dinner?"
Dad perked up after hearing the invitation, which was reminiscent of dining at a nice restaurant years ago. "When is it?" he manages to ask. "Dinner is being served now; I believe we are having chicken and mashed potatoes." "Okay!" my dad eagerly replied as he followed the aide who had taken the time to treat him as an important patron. He spoke to him with respect, as if the doors of this restaurant would close if great service was lacking. It's the little things - the kind gestures and simple pleasantries.
Not everyone working in Memory Care has embraced this philosophy, but believe me when I say family members notice the ones who have. The aides who care enough to hang our loved one's clothes before they wrinkle, those who take note when one of our own has overlooked their utensils (or cannot figure out how to retrieve them from the rolled napkin) and is eating with their hands. Those who take the extra moment to stoop to eye level before speaking and wait for the belabored response.
We notice and we thank you for offering love and respect with your assistance.
As my parents' longtime caregiver of nearly a decade has reminded me many times: You cannot train someone to care. I certainly never made a list of job requirements stating she must turn on Dad's favorite music when she enters the room or that a routine resembling a dance be created in order to make the necessary process of a shower more enjoyable. She simply does these things because she cares.
Had it not been for these loving caregivers aiding me in the care of my parents, I would not have experienced a single vacation in the past decade. We would have never been afforded the pleasure of traveling to another state to visit my husband's side of the family. I certainly would not have been able to advocate on behalf of the millions of other victims of this disease. It is essential to have help when caring for a loved one with a form of dementia.
For all those who embrace our loved ones as their own - Thank you!
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