Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Learning What’s Important

I’ve been ridiculously busy the last little while. Despite trying to write, to finish little projects that are almost there, I have been working…because let’s face it, more money is always good. But I found something that is more than just work. Something that touches me in a way I never could have imagined. Sure, I went into it hoping to find something that would change or maybe even define me as a person. But I didn’t know how much of a difference I could make in a person’s life, or just how much I would learn.

I’ve started doing home care for seniors. This would consist of anything from companionship to personal care. Most of the clients I can expect to get have some form of dementia or maybe even alzhiemers. My first client is a lady, she’s 92 years old and for the past few years started to develop dementia. She has these moments when she slips, not really forgetting who I am, but thinking she doesn’t need me. She’s tried to kick me out a couple of times. But then there are the days she is so lonely she doesn’t want me to leave. The three hours I spend with her, is just not enough. Yet she strives to hold on to her independence, like the moment it’s gone, she is done. My job is to help not feel so lonely, to find her things to do.

Problem is, in her constant complaints of boredom, she doesn’t want to do anything except watch TV. She doesn’t want to walk, she doesn’t want to leave her suite, doesn’t want to read or be read to, she just wants to sit and doze in her chair and complain about the lack of quality television. And, much to my surprise, she doesn’t want to talk about herself either. I was under the impression that most seniors loved to talk about themselves and their pasts, but not this one. Ask her a direct question about her past, no matter how trivial the question or the intention of the question, and she thinks I’m prying.

Which makes me wonder, is she hiding something? Something she doesn’t want anyone to know. A secret? That’s the writer in me, speculating.

By the way, it’s really hard to have a conversation when you can’t ask a few questions. I know sometimes I have a habit of asking inappropriate or personal questions, but of course I don’t do that with her.

It makes me sad to see her hunched over, lonely. Nothing to do but bide her time until it’s time to go. But like I said, it’s not like she has nothing to do, it’s that she chooses to do nothing. Like there is nothing left to live for, and my challenge, to help her find that thing.

She can be the sweetest lady. She can be the most ornery lady. She laughs and smiles, gets sour and agitated. But one thing remains the same, she is so polite.

We painted her fingernails the other day. Something so simple, yet seemed to bring her some great joy. It actually gave me a little insight to her. There are few pictures of her family, those that do exist, kept in her bedroom on her dresser. In those pictures, I see a different woman. Straight-faced, matter of fact…very proper. But pictures only capture a moment in time.

So who is this woman?

I am determined to find out.

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting experience-I didn't know you were doing this. Everyone has a story (which you already know)-I am curious what your new friend's is and what you'll learn from her. Awesome thing to do by the way!


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