Saturday, July 23, 2016

"They are letting us stay here tonight."

Sitting in the living room at Gary's Memory Care center is a real laughable experience.  The residents have conversations with each other, with neither of them knowing what the other is talking about but they go along and it becomes comical.

For example:

One female resident picked up her purse to go to her room for the night.  She stopped by our table and said goodnight to another female resident. Lets call them Martha and Irene.

Martha:  "Good night my friend.  We had a good day."
Irene:  "Yes, we did.  Did they make you work as hard as I did?"
Martha:  "Yes, but lets look at the bright side.  We must have done good work because we still have jobs and they are letting us stay here tonight."
Irene:  "Yep.  What did they make you do?"
Martha:  "I had to put together that engine out of the car that broke down."
Irene:  "They are tricking us.  I put together the same engine.  Have a good night.  I love you."
Martha:  "I love you too and I'm glad you are my friend."
Irene:  "I love you, too.  Now go to sleep. I'll check on you later."

I am quite positive that neither of them recall this conversation but it is amazing to me that they pick up on each others' memories.  In my mind, Martha probably worked in a factory during the war (WW2) and really did put together engines.  Irene, on the other hand, was probably raising children and knew nothing of the industrial life but knows of strife and labor.  As a witness, it was fascinating and amusing. 

Meanwhile, Gary is sitting next to me listening to this whole conversation.  For those who have read my blog, he is a repeater.  He repeats two to three times various things he hears.  If its the answer to a question or an original thought, he says it once.

So his words repeated hearing this conversation was:
"Look at the bright side.  We have jobs.Look at the bright side.  We have jobs.Look at the bright side.  We have jobs."

And then, "I love you too and I'm glad you are my friend."

As he looked at me, he only said this once.  He told me he loved me and that I was his friend.  Then he followed with, "I love you darlin'".  It was an original thought. 

Other examples of the importance of listening to the residents....

Today, I was sitting at the dinner table with Gary and three other residents waiting on their food.  They had a choice of spaghetti and garlic bread or a hot dog and chips.  One of the male residents....we will call him Bill, told the caregiver that he wanted a hot dog.  His eyes lit up with glee until she brought the hot dog covered in ketchup, mustard and relish.  He said very plainly, "Take it back, I don't want all that garbage on it."  She heard that he did not want it but did not really hear him.  She brought him the spaghetti and garlic bread...he just picked at it.  After about 20 minutes, one of the supervisors who had not heard any of this came by and said, "Bill, you did not eat your food."  He said, "No, I did not."  I spoke up and asked if they could bring him another hot dog and to ask him what he wanted.  They did.  He only wanted mustard.  He got his hot dog and was very pleased.  He ate every bite.

I am not judging as I had the freedom to sit at the table and overhear and really actively listen to these people.  If I had all the money in the world, I would hire an advocate for each of them to act as a personal assistant for them all to ensure that every conceivable moment is giving them what they want. 

At the same time this was happening, one of the other caregivers was bending over backwards to prepare the Cobb Salads exactly like one of the residents wanted.  When that resident spoke his preference, many of the others spoke up and wanted the same treatment.  She made sure that his salad was prepared EXACTLY as he stated.  The look on his face when she brought it to him was magical.  Like a child in a candy store.

My point in this part of the conversation should be to thank all the caregivers in the world who are going above and beyond to make these people happy.  They try to satisfy some small like or memory they have.  The caregivers are angels who have a place waiting in heaven.

As I sit next to Gary and hold his hand, bring him a blanket, snip his fingernails, organize his closet, unpack the chair that finally arrived, and to rub his arms.....I think, " Lord, help me continue to be the wife he needs.  Help me to help him have a good, comfortable life."

At this point in his Dementia....that is all I can ask, I left and went out for lunch and had a manicure and a pedicure.  I fell asleep in the chair while receiving a leg massage. 

I  awoke to the reality that my caregiver duties are really not over.  I merely changed positions on the team. 

1 comment:

  1. Ada, I'm wondering if you have children, and if so, how have they responded to all of this?