In American life, we think we are most free when we don't need anybody. Exactly what Alzheimer's represents is absolute dependency - That's what we all need to learn - how deeply we need one another.
- Stanley Hauerwas, Professor of Theological Ethics
If someone listens, or stretches out a hand, or whispers a kind word of encouragement, or attempts to understand a lonely person, extraordinary things begin to happen.
- Loretta Girzartis, Author
Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat . . .We must find each other.
- Mother Theresa, Saint
They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything.
- Bil Keane, Cartoonist
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essayist
All real living is meeting.
- Martin Buber, Philosopher
I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.
- Albert Schweitzer, Missionary
The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
- William James, Philosopher
Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.
- Christopher Columbus, Explorer
A good traveler is one who does not know where he is going to, and a perfect traveler does not know where he came from.
- Lin Yutang, Writer
You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
- A. A. Milne, Author (Winnie the Pooh)
Memory Bridge Newsletter
06/23/09 - Meeting in the Middle: True Stories of Presence from the Bridge
Lessons Learned by Patricia Luster, C.N.A.
Every once in a while a resident comes along that you just don’t want to have anything to do with. For me that resident was Fred. If I could get my co-worker to take care of Fred for the night, I was a “happy camper.” For some reason Fred and I didn’t get along. My co-worker said that maybe Fred was intimidated by my size. At 5' 9" tall and 380 lbs., I could see where I might be scary to some people, but Fred was at least an inch taller than me―maybe even two inches―and he topped out at 320 lbs. After 300 the extra weight becomes superfluous in my opinion.
All I know is that I avoided caring for Fred at all costs. But my luck ran out one night when my co-worker went to lunch and Fred needed to go to the bathroom. Fred was able to get around good on his own once he was on his feet, but getting him to a standing position required some effort on my part. I reached down to grasp the belt that would hoist Fred up and started to pull when suddenly my whole face exploded in a shower of pain. Fred had taken his fist and plowed it right into my nose.
“It was your own fault, Tiny,” he exclaimed, as I backed away to get a cloth and stop the flow of blood from my injured nostrils. “You forgot to tell me exactly what you were going to do.”
You know, I hate those lectures we get at workshops and education meetings that tell us 98 percent of all behavior problems are caused by us, the caregivers, and usually stem from the way we approach the resident. In this case I had to swallow my resentment and admit that Fred’s explanation made perfect sense. It was my fault, and I learned my lesson the hard way.
I soon had my bloody nose under control and re-approached Fred. This time I voiced step by step everything we were going to be doing. He finished his business and settled down for the duration of the shift, and life went on.
Sometimes I think I’m pretty lucky caring for people with memory problems because the mistakes I make are usually forgotten quickly, but I wasn’t so fortunate with Fred. For weeks after that night, whenever Fred saw me the first words out of his mouth were “How’s the nose, Tiny?”
I had to laugh, but it was an excellent reminder for me to stick to my resolution to explain myself every step of the way. A funny thing happened after that. Fred started asking for me to be the one to take care of him. And an even stranger thing occurred. I was happy to be the one doing his care. Somewhere along the way a relationship began between us.
I suppose for Fred he was glad to be getting a caregiver who told him exactly what would be happening. For me, I think it was because no one had ever called me “Tiny” before.