Inspirational Guest Blogger and Caregiver, Lynette Wilson Juul, writes: Before becoming an in-home caregiver, I worked the night shift for two years at a small assisted living facility (ALF) that was home to about forty seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other aging-related disorders. I may not remember all of their names, but I can recall the funny little things the people I grew to love said and did. Here are a couple of their stories:
THE LADY IN RED
My tasks seemed simple. Get them up, dressed, and into the dining room for breakfast.
Many were able to do this independently, so I mainly focused on a few folks who needed a little extra help.
One morning, I was working with an extremely gentle, soft-spoken woman who rarely had much to say.
She always greeted me with a sweet smile, however, as I helped her choose her outfit for the day. Typically, she wore items that were not very colorful or eye-catching. Nothing flashy for my friend!
One day, I pulled a beautiful red sweater out of her closet, and held it up so that she could decide whether she wanted to try something a bit brighter than usual.
She smiled, also a bit brighter than usual, and said in a quiet, wistful way, “I love red.”
“Really?” I inquired, surprised by her willingness to wear something so boldly colored.
Then, she announced in a loud voice that was bolder than I’d ever heard before, “My husband always said I looked like a tramp in red. So, I never wore it.”
Even more clearly, she followed-up with, “It doesn’t really matter now. He’s dead.”
So much for fond remembrances!
THEY CALLED HER THE WANDERER
It was difficult to keep tabs on one feisty, flirtatious woman, the wily wanderer of the ALF I worked in.
She was an Alzheimer’s resident, and all of the staff members worked diligently to try to keep their eyes on her whereabouts at ALL TIMES!
If memory serves me, I believe the entire alarm system in the facility was geared around our loveable wanderer. Rumor had it that she had once walked out the front door and gotten into a car with a complete stranger! Luckily, one of the staff apprehended her before she rode off into the sunset with her knight in shining armor (aka snazzy wheels).
But no one had quite the same charm as “the Wanderer.” She may not have been able to find her way to the dining room, or even her own bedroom, but whenever there was any doubt about her whereabouts, the staff knew EXACTLY where to find her.
Safe and sound in the bedroom of an elderly Italian gentleman who had taken quite a fancy to our friend, and vice-versa.
Who says flowers don’t bloom in the winter?
Lynette Wilson Juul, MS is both a family and professional caregiver. For twenty-five years, she assisted people with disabilities. During the last decade, she has helped families who have a memory impaired loved one, including her own father-in-law, Ole Juul, who has dementia. Although Lynette lives in New York with her teenage son, Peter, they often travel to the Bay Area of California, where Ole and Peter’s Dad reside, to help with his care.
Lynette and her son Peter were featured caregivers on The Caregiver’s Voice.