The elevator engineer


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Neil was in an early-moderate stage of dementia. He was also fairly young (late 60s) and broad-shouldered. Neil didn’t have much family, but the family he did have were his old coworkers.

Like many men of a certain generation, Neil was not interested in doing the usual “activities” we provided at the community. Singing, entertainers, arts and crafts, physical activity, etc., didn’t appeal to him. What Neil wanted to do was do what he’d always done: work.

Neil had been an elevator engineer his whole life. Honestly, before I’d gone to that community, I didn’t realize that an “elevator engineer” was a job. I suppose it makes sense, but I’d never thought about it.

Fortunately for Neil (and for us) our community had an elevator. Neil’s “job” each day was to get up, get his coffee, and stand or sit near the elevator, monitoring its progress. They’d given him a clipboard and pen, and Neil would sit and take notes.

This made Neil incredibly happy. He had loved work, and he enjoyed being able to “work” again.

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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 two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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