Friday, January 2, 2015

"She's adorble! But her dress is too short."

"Can't you make it longer?" This ^ was a resident's comment on the doll I'd stitched (and dressed) out of fabric pieces they'd cut. 
[ posted yesterday]

So, even a person with dementia can see that Star Trek women's uniforms are too short!

Luckily, yesterday was a day when things worked for the good:
due to laziness, I had not hemmed the uniform, and I simply pull down the extra fabric to make a knee-length dress, which met with approval.

A few other amazing things in a day full of good connections:

1. A resident called me by name! She came in the room, having been gone a while, and said, "Fresca, come see this."

This is the first time anyone has called me by name in my 3 months there (even the aides hardly ever call me by name), and I realized how hard it has been, not feeling known. This gives me a glimmer of how hard it is for family  friends.
(I've suspected this woman does know who I am but couldn't be sure it wasn't just social posturing, which lingers a long time.)

2. Later I came across another resident crying in the dining room. 
He suffers from anxiety (cruel, cruel, worse than dementia in some ways).  I walked him back to his room where he feels safer. 

He told me "I don't want to be afraid anymore."

Seeing a rosary by his bed, I asked him if he'd like to pray.

"I don't remember how," he said.

Often this just ("just") means someone doesn't remember how to start, so I recited the 23rd psalm, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil."

"Sorry," I said, "I got lots of that wrong."

"It doesn't matter," he replied. "Thank you for your kindness. I can sleep now."

3. It was a day of connecting well with men.

I've been asking people at work for help with American football, so I can know how to reach the men who like it. The aides are mostly from other countries and tell me they only like soccer. (Me too, guys.)

But the maintenance guy is American-born, and he follows the game. Yesterday he told me that the Gophers, our college team, were in a big game. I found the right TV channel, and a couple guys were happy (truly happy!) to come and watch. 

I served beer and potato chips.
My boss, the activities director, had bought the cheapest, bottom of the barrel beer. One guy didn't mind.
The other sipped it, said, "This is terrible," and handed it back.

More good luck: we had root beer in the fridge, leftover from some event, and he liked that.

An aide told me, "You're the only one who ever tries to get the men to join in."
Sad news, but I felt proud I had managed it.

What a great start to the New Year, after a couple weeks of feeling rather unhappy at work. I will remember these things that worked when I hit another stretch (guaranteed ahead) when nothing does.


The Crow said...

You're a new hero for me, Fresca.

How interesting that the sense of taste is not affected (yet, anyway) by dementia. Good beer wears many flavors, but bad is just plain bad!

marja-leena said...

I've enjoyed my ramble through your blog, especially the stories of the elders you care for with such compassion. All the best in this New Year, Fresca!

Zhoen said...

Probably always drank cheap beer, so it was familiar. Other guy, not.

Very cool that you got the guys involved. Rather like boys in school who are expected to be quiet and read, and they are just as smart, but need to run and make noise to learn. I didn't understand it as a quiet little girl, but I see it now.

poodletail said...

Your observations today are such a good lesson in perspective, Fresca. Thanks for the hard work you do and for noting them here.

Fresca said...

CROW: Thanks. I don't feel at all heroic---mostly I just feel lucky to find work that suits me.

Some people have lost the senses of smell and taste. The guy who didn't like the beer may have Parkinson's, not Alzheimer's---not sure how that affects taste buds.

M-L: Thanks for visiting! Wishing you a wonderful 2015 too.

ZHOEN: I did think ---afterward---I should ask these guys what brand of beer they like.

I know exactly what you mean about the little boys in grade school---looking back I think, why didn't they let them *move*? I wonder if education has caught on to this yet...

POODLE!!! Hey! How nice to see you here!
No doubt about it, working with people who live with dementia provides perspective.
Insight Number One: "At least I don't have holes in my brain."

poodletail said...

No holes that you know of. ~:-o

Frex said...

Ha! Right!
AMENDMENT: "At least I don't have holes in my brain the size of Minneapolis pot holes that eat cars."