She Remembered Me.

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I walked through the doors of an unfamiliar dementia care community, looking for a resident who had moved from our location. I was afraid she wouldn’t remember me. I was sad, too, because I missed seeing her face when I went to work. It just wasn’t the same.

She had loved living in our community. I wondered if she would know me in a different environment.

A staff member pointed me down a hallway, where Helen’s room was. I began my walk down the hall, but Helen spotted me from twenty feet away.

“Oh!” she exclaimed, releasing her grip on her walker to throw her arms in the air. I sped up to greet her, and Helen embraced me in a hug. “How did you find me? How did you know I was here?” she asked with wonder.

“I just knew where to look,” I smiled, simplifying things. Helen and I sat down to talk. She took my hand in hers, holding it gently throughout the whole conversation.

I asked how she was doing. “I’m…I’m lonely,” Helen said softly.

My heart ached and I bit my lip in an attempt to prevent myself from crying. Forever the kind-hearted optimist (and as a woman with Alzheimer’s) Helen quickly changed the subject. “How did you find me?” she repeated again.

“I just knew where to look,” I smiled, not missing a beat.

“Oh I can’t wait to come back,” Helen added, thinking of my community. “I can’t wait to move back there,” she said, not realizing that she would not be moving back to her old home.

I bit my lip again. “Me too, Helen. I can’t wait,” I said, forcing a smile.

“You don’t know how much this means to me, that you came here to see me. Oh, this makes my day,” Helen said, her bright eyes brimming with tears.

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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.

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