A Case of Mistaken Identity.

RACHAEL PODCAST COVER – Season 4

Don’t miss the next live event!


Join us on our next live event! There are always live Q&A sessions or new webinars to learn from. Click here to sign up

“Susan! Susan, can you help me?” Virginia* cried, following me down the hallway. 

As most of you know by now, my name is not Susan. Virginia began calling me “Susan” about a week ago, and it’s been going on ever since.

I turned, swiftly, and smiled. “What can I help you with, Virginia?”

“Susan, I don’t want to get married!” she exclaimed.

I was surprised, but this was a story I could definitely roll with.

“Don’t worry, Virginia, you don’t have to get married!” I replied.

“Are you sure? Who are they even trying to make me marry?” she asked.

“I don’t know, but I’m going to go to that wedding, and I’m going to mess everything up! I’m going to walk up to the alter and save you from getting married. I won’t let it happen!” I declared.

“Oh, thank you, thank you, I feel so much better,” Virginia sighed.

I have no idea who Susan is, but she must be someone important to Virginia. There’s a lot of mistaken identity that occurs in memory care communities. We have a resident who is convinced that one of our employees is her landlord. Another resident, Sarah*, consistently calls another resident by the wrong name. Even when the other resident corrects her, Sarah keeps it up. 

Sometimes it’s really convenient when a resident thinks that you’re someone else. For example, maybe “Susan” could help Virginia through any problem. Maybe Susan was a great friend to talk to. In this case, I’m pretty happy to be Susan. And who knows why she’s decided that I’m Susan? Maybe we both have the same color hair, or maybe we laugh the same way. 

Let her think that you’re Susan. More than anything, she just wants someone kind to listen to her. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

rachael photo

Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two 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!

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.

16 things poster
Shopping Cart