During my 25 years in long term health care, I have met some of the most amazing people who have led amazing lives. I once had lunch with a Four Star General, discussed world events with a CEO of a large, well known company,made small talk with a former US Marine who was actually there on February 23,1945 when the US Flag was raised at Iwo Jima; laughed at the jokes of a former US Navy Captain, had dinner with a scientist who created angel hair for Christmas trees….on and on I could go about the people I have met.
Our seniors have given so much to the world as we know it today. Just because they suffer from dementia, does not mean their contributions to our society should go unnoticed. When we walk into nursing homes and assisted living memory care units, what we see is the reflection of a life lived and almost over. We do not see the person they were. We see them as a person who needs help with every aspect of caring for themselves. It amazes me in a way when I am writing care plans for the residents and I add the sentence “is not able to recognize safety or danger”. Look at the lives this generation has led. They have lived through wars, diseases and the Great Depression! The disease process has robbed them of what they could do, but it does not change WHO they are and what they have done for us as a nation and a society.
The residents in our care should always be shown the respect they have earned, not treated as just another person who pays our salary. These people were our heroes,not revenue driven zeros for corporations. The value of what they have done in the past has charted the waters to our future.
I encourage you to look at dementia patients differently. Even though some may have long forgotten what they did “back in the day”. we should be able to remind them, and thank them for making the world a little bit better place; the place we call home today.