Is This For Me?

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I handed Helen one of the stuffed dogs from our new Pet Shop area. I knew how much she enjoyed the baby dolls we had, so I hoped that she would also like the dogs.

“Ohh,” she cried with delight, opening her arms to accept the stuffed dog. 

“Is this dog for me? Can I keep him?” she asked with wonder. 

“Sure, you can keep him,” I smiled. 

“You are the sweetest dog,” she said, softly, holding it to her chest. 

Helen closed her eyes as she rested her head against the stuffed animal’s fur. 

Everything we do, we do for our residents. It has to be that way if we are going to truly help and care for people with dementia. Even the smallest gesture—such as handing a stuffed dog to someone—can make a world of difference in that person’s day.

I saw her later, walking down the hallway with one of the baby dolls in her arms.

“Helen, do you want to come listen to music with us?” I asked her.

“No, I can’t. He’ll start to cry,” she whispered, motioning to the baby doll.

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Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. She owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting company.

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

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