What if I visit and he doesn’t know who I am?

Care partners regularly ask me about one of their deepest fears. The fear usually goes like this: at some point, you’ll walk in to visit your loved one, and that person will look at you with a blank stare. “Who are you?” they’ll ask you, as your own eyes fill with tears. Here’s the good news: this fearContinue reading “What if I visit and he doesn’t know who I am?”

Don’t ask someone with dementia if they “know your name” or “remember you”

If I can, I always opt to ditch my name tag in a dementia care environment. I let my friends with dementia decide what my name is: I’ve been Susan, Gwendolyn, and various peoples’ kids. I’ve been so many identities to my residents, too: a coworker, a boss, a student, a sibling, a friend fromContinue reading “Don’t ask someone with dementia if they “know your name” or “remember you””

Dementia gives us gifts, let’s not reject them

It had been six months since I’d seen Dot, my favorite resident. Dot was what I like to call “pleasantly confused.” She was in her mid-90s, had Alzheimer’s, and just enjoyed everything. One thing that I remember about Dot was that she missed her husband a lot. They had been married for decades, and his passingContinue reading “Dementia gives us gifts, let’s not reject them”

“You’re not my son.”

Alicia danced down the hallway, both hands steadily on her walker. She moved her hips from side to side, singing a little song, and smiled at everyone she passed. Her son, Nick, was walking next to her.  Nick was probably one of the best caregivers I’d ever met. It wasn’t just that he visited hisContinue reading ““You’re not my son.””

Elsie & The Boy Who Wasn’t There

Elsie had been acting strangely for a couple days now. It was our morning meeting, and the team had assembled in the dining room to talk about our residents.  I liked this practice: it gave us a chance to talk about each resident, which made everyone in the community important. Every resident was spoken about,Continue reading “Elsie & The Boy Who Wasn’t There”

In dementia world, you can live wherever you want

Picture from Klavon’s in Pittsburgh, PA (2017) I was busy setting up an old fashioned “ice cream parlor” look where the Nurses’ Station was at the dementia care community. The Nurses’ Station wasn’t going anywhere, of course, but it really did make the place look like a hospital. I didn’t want that. I wanted the residentsContinue reading “In dementia world, you can live wherever you want”

Lunch & Old Friends

A memory of mine from two years ago: I had taken a few of my residents out to lunch when I noticed a woman across the restaurant quietly observing us. It’s not uncommon for me to get a few looks or smiles when I’m out with my residents, but this woman looked as though sheContinue reading “Lunch & Old Friends”

“Dad, do you remember my name?”

Oh, please don’t ask him that, I thought to myself. The old man stood in the doorway, smiling, confused; an uncertain grin, looking at his two sons and daughter-in-law. “Dad, don’t you remember me?” the one son repeated again. “He doesn’t know what year it is,” I whispered under my breath, unsure of who IContinue reading ““Dad, do you remember my name?””

Mistaken for a Man.

“Get away from him! That’s my husband and he wants to come with me!” Gladys yelled. Gladys stood, holding Margaret’s walker, pointing at her female companion. A number of staff members crowded the pair, attempting to extricate Margaret from Gladys’ grasp. They had to get Margaret into the bathroom, but Gladys was trying to pullContinue reading “Mistaken for a Man.”

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