Have more questions and don't know where to turn?

Join our community and get access to monthly support calls, an online chat forum for questions, and even monthly 1:1 calls with Rachael! CLICK HERE for more information.

I have this odd little fear that rises up in my heart when I take my residents outside of the memory care community. It’s not a fear of losing someone in a crowd, or the fear that a resident will become agitated (although those fears are present.) It’s a fear that other people won’t understand dementia. It’s a fear that someone, an outsider to our memory care world, will be unkind to a resident.

While I think it’s completely normal when a resident asks me the same question five times in the course of a conversation, a waitress may not feel the same. Some of my residents will also interact with anyone and everyone. While I think that this is wonderful, a stranger who wants to be left alone may be caught off guard.

The best example of this is when we took some residents to a restaurant. Many of the residents we take out keep to themselves and the group, but a couple are very outgoing. One of my favorite residents, who doesn’t speak about 95% of the time, loves to meet people.

As we were leaving she went up to each table and smiled, mimed, and touched the restaurant patrons’ faces. She actually sat down at one table and put her arm around a man. I tried to gently coax her to leave the seat, but she smiled at her new friend. He looked surprised, and I became nervous. What could I do if this guy got angry? It would be hard to quickly explain that we were memory care.

The man’s wife grinned and laughed. He smiled, albeit a little awkwardly. My resident kissed his cheek, smiled, stood up, and left the restaurant with us.

No one was unkind to any of my residents that day. To this day, no one has been mean upon meeting our group. In fact, people have been decidedly nice and helpful. We were once walking a big group out of the ballpark after watching a baseball game. A stranger helped one of our residents under a tent overhang he hadn’t seen. She smiled at me. “I work in memory care, too, what community are you guys with?”

Liked it? Take a second to support Rachael Wonderlin on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

16 things poster
Get the FREE “16 Things” poster!

You're not alone!

Get personal support from Rachael and connect with other Caregivers when you join our community.

16 Things I Would Want If I Got Dementia

Get the FREE “16 Things” poster for your personal use—or better yet—your dementia care community’s staff break room!

I wrote this poem years ago, but to date, it’s the most popular piece I’ve ever created.

When you sign up, you’ll also get access to Rachael’s weekly newsletter so that you can get her top tips, links to new content as soon as it’s released, and special offers directly in your inbox! We’ll never sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

16 things poster
Shopping Cart

Have questions?

Book a Dementia Detective
call and talk to a DBD expert!