Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Conference Ahead

I have a busy week ahead--starting tomorrow, I'm attending a 3-day conference on Aging, plus one evening, the Thrift Store grant-giving committee meets for the first time.

Next month I'll be going to a one-day conference specifically on Alzheimer's.

Lots of interesting stuff to learn---especially about the brain, that wacky organ...
Though it looks like the conference sessions will mostly address the social end of things, not the neurological. Which is fine, since that's what I do (social stuff), but I would like to learn more of the medical/biological side too.
Things get weird with holes in the brain: not necessarily unhappy, just odd. 
"Oatmeal" nail polish.
It exists.
The other day I was painting a woman's fingernails with pink nail polish, and I said, "I wonder what the name of this polish is..."
She said, "Wholegrain oatmeal."
I was baffled until I realized she was reading the label on the cardboard box I keep the manicure kit in.
"Wholegrain oatmeal?" I said. "Is that the name of the nail polish?"
"Yep," she said. She was quite happy and enjoying the manicure, it was just this language glitch.

After 4+ months, the people I work with have become normal to me. On the face of it, our social engagement isn't too very different from casual chats at the Thrift Store (just shorter).

And of course I've gotten to know the residents very well, so I need reminding sometimes that their reality is very, very different from mine. 

Every so often they do remind me, vividly.

One morning, I had to go downstairs to pick something up, and I  invited some residents to come along, as I often do––those who like a change of scene.

A certain resident is always eager to go anywhere---(she's the one who once stuck her foot out to stop me leaving without her). 
So I didn't take much time inviting her––
I said, "Let's go downstairs," and started pushing her wheelchair.

"Wait, wait," she said. "I don't know if I can trust you."

I stopped, apologized, and introduced myself to her
, saying I was new---as I should do every single time. Then she was her usual gracious self and happily went along.

 Of course I know, in theory, that the memory of most people I work with is wiped clean every few minutes. But as long as we're together without breaks, that usually isn't very evident--I keep the Activities flowing, and people just go along with them. 
(Or a good number of people don't participate at all, but that is also predictable.)

I'm not strongly extroverted, and I do find all this outgoing work draining, and not just because it's engaging with people with dementia. Yesterday I stayed home and cleaned the house and sat on the couch doing nothing, really nothing, for a good long while.

I'll be glad to have a break from putting out social energy to go to a conference and absorb other people's words and work.


Zhoen said...

The buttons are there, but they are hooked up weird, or not at all. Never know what will happen when you press them.

Fresca said...

That's it!