“She has heels on.”

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Lois is very active at the community. She is generally very excitable, very happy, and very sociable. She does, however, get anxious easily.

Lois enjoys listening to music, dancing, and walking down the hallway, hand-in-hand with her newfound friends, who are also residents at the community. 

“Hey, sweetie pie!” she asks frequently. “When’s my daughter coming here?” 

Lois is usually looking for her daughter, even if her daughter is there with us. 

Yesterday, as we were getting residents together for a painting activity, I asked Lois if she wanted to join. Lois will sit down for a little while, but mostly likes to be up, moving around. She seems to get anxious and get up quickly unless she’s occupied with eating or talking to a table partner.

I handed Lois a paintbrush, some paint, and a thick piece of paper. She did not seem interested in painting, at least not without some encouragement. 

“Lois, can you paint me something?” I asked, putting the brush in her hand and helping her dip it in paint.

Suddenly, Lois refocused, putting her brush on the paper. She began drawing a head, and I watched with delight as she added two eyes and a smile.

Lois was calm and focused. She was no longer asking where anyone was, nor was she up, walking down the hall. Lois was invested in this painting.

“She needs shoes,” Lois said of her painting. She took her time adding “shoes” to the woman’s feet. 

“Look,” Lois said. “She’s wearing high heels.”

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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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