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It could be the beginning of a potentially very happy phase of life if the caregiver addresses the heart needs of the client and the client is well matched with the facility.
When Kathy came to live at Lakeside Gardens, she was over 80 years of age. She was as sharp as a tack and quick to assess the situation. She decided that to keep costs down, she would invite a roommate to share her master sized bedroom and bath. But when her roommate arrived, Kathy was horrified to realize that Sue was not a Mariners fan. However, within a few short weeks, Kathy had Sue watching the team and understanding the game in no time. Soon we were meal planning around the Mariners game schedule so they wouldn't have to miss a moment of the excitement.
Before coming to Lakeside Gardens, Kathy had lived a happy and content life in her family home where she grew up. She worked simple and hardworking jobs in her younger years and knew the difference between a job well done and one that lacked enthusiasm. With a watchful eye on all that went on, I could count on Kathy to keep me well informed as to how my staff measured up.
One day she called me into her room. I knelt by her favorite easy chair and looked into her face. She told me she wanted me to know something. I encouraged her to share what was on her heart. She opened up and told me that this was the happiest she had ever been in her entire life. She told me she felt like a queen in her palace. And then, speaking with a wavering voice and dewy eyes, Kathy thanked me for letting her live here. I assured her that it was my honor and joy to have her at Lakeside. Moments like this are the heart and soul of my work.
My point is that entering a senior facility doesn't have to be the end of this world. It could be the beginning of a potentially very happy phase of life if the caregiver addresses the heart needs of the client and the client is well matched with the facility.
Below you'll find a story taken from Darla's upcoming book "The Beautiful Side of Dementia" that shows the humor and enjoyment that's still possible even in the presence of dementia:
"We are so lucky to be here together"
"Yes we are such good friends and we are so happy"
I was amazed at their clarity and insight.
"We are so lucky to be here together"
One day Rose and Gertrude went outside to enjoy the unusually warm spring weather. Both had serious short term memory deficits and were living with us because of it. They sat together on a wicker bench, arms around each other, enjoying the sunshine and flowers. We were outside taking pictures of the tulips in bloom and happened to be close enough to hear their extraordinary exchange.
" We are so lucky to be here together," Rose said
Gertrude responded in agreement adding, "Yes, we have each other."
Rose nodded, smiling widely. "I'm so glad that we are good friends, she said.
Gertrude patted her friend Rose's hand in agreement. "Yes, we are such good friends and we are so happy"
"Yes we are very happy" Rose agreed.
Gertrude thought for a moment before she added, " And they take such good care of us, we have absolutely nothing to worry about!"
"No, nothing to worry about at all," Rose repeated.
"And even if we do have something to worry about, we can't remember what it is!" Exclaimed Gertrude
Together, they burst out laughing. "No, we can't remember a thing" Rose laughingly quipped.
"No we can't even remember to worry" said Gertrude.
Then she thought for a minute before adding, "I guess not remembering IS a problem though."
They both stopped laughing for a few seconds before Gertrude said, " Everyone should have our problem so they wouldn't have to worry!" They both burst our laughing again.
I was amazed at their clarity and insight. We took their picture and cherish it to this day.
It is obvious that one of the great advantages of living at Lakeside Gardens is the friendship and sense of peace and belonging it can bring.