Sunday Best

Sometimes I understand the confusion of a dementia patient; often declaring to myself that maybe the patient is not the one confused! Think about this for a second, you and I know how things operate today in our high-tech, modern world. We tweet and tweeting has nothing to do with the sounds a bird makes…Tweeting has nothing to do with Tweety bird or Sylvester the cat.TweetyBird
Yet, we as a modern society “tweet”. Back in the 30’s,40’s….heck, even in the 90’s, no one knew what a tweet was.

Not only do we “tweet and retweet, but we friend and unfriend people that we do not know, have never met and truly know nothing about. Back in the olden days, people were friends with only those within horse travel range…..not worlds away. So, trying explain to grandma who is on your Friends List, may not make much sense…………

Last week I promised to send an email to a resident’s son in regards to a concern he had. The conversation went like this:

” Send a what?”
” An email”
” A what mail?
” An email. You know, using the computer. Writing a letter on the computer.”
” Oh, you are writing to him.Why can’t you pick up the phone and call him? Seems to me that would be faster. Get the answer right then instead of waiting on the mailman.”

At that point, I resigned from the conversation, knowing he was right. I could call the son.But who calls anyone anymore? Emails, faxes and telecommunication have made given us the right to not communicate verbally…….yet we tweet out hashtags to strangers and chat incessantly with invisible people……..BUT ee do not want to engage with people within ear-shot…..hmmmm.

It’s not just technology that causes confusion in the elderly. A group of volunteers came in to the visit and fellowship with the residents a few weeks back. (Now, I am not passing judgement on how anyone dresses….if you wear baggy pants that sport your underwear hanging out, that’s none of my business. If you like to wear what we called “tights” back in my day, and you call them pants….well, that’s your business as well………). But here’s the thing……when religious organizations come into a dementia facility, you would think their dress code would reflect a certain degree of “churchy-ness”. You know what I mean…..look like you came from church. Think about the generation we are catering to in the facility……these men and women were modest in dress back in their day, in all aspects of life. Men dressed in suits for church, complete with their underwear tucked in, pants pulled up to their waist and even wore a belt. Women wore clothing that was not revealing and was neither too loose, nor painted on. I digress……… church

So this church group comes into the facility……preparing to have a “service.”. The young man was trying to get Mr. Harris, who is extremely hard of hearing, to come out to participate.
” Mr. Harris, would you like to come out to the church service we are having today?” The young man asked.
“The what? Supper?”
” No sir, church service. I am leading a church service out in the activity room. Do you want to come?” I could hear the young man’s voice down the hall way .
” Church service? Is is a church service?”
“Yes sir.”
Once that was established. the young man wheeled Mr. Harris into the activity room, placing him right up front. He was in plain view of other church members………..as I passed by, Mr. Harris motioned for me to come over to him.

” Look, see that man over there? He invited me to church. But look, you see them people over there? (He pointed out a few of the women who had very short skirts and well, let’s just say…well nevermind).
“This ain’t no church service, this is like a gentleman’s club. Can you wheel me to the right program?” He asked.

What was I to do? Explain to him that times have changed? (That we dress differently today? Should I explain to him that churches today have men and women in the pulpit who dress the same as the men and women sitting in the pews…….who don’t dress much differently than women working the streets……….. Hmmmmmmm.) How could I help him understand that THIS is the church service…..that the message would probably be really good, and that he would enjoy the music?
I patted him on the shoulder and spoke loudly, Let’s stay for a while. I bet you will recognize the songs……….”

Five minutes later, the music began. It was not the Hymns from the church. It was our praise music of today…. the sound of electric and acoustic guitars filled the activity room. It was indeed worship music, but not music this population would know. Instead of “Amazing Grace”, they sang
” Amazing Love”. Instead of How Great Thou Art, they sang ” How Great Is our God”……(hey, I love these songs myself. If I don’t know the words, I make up my own and sing them loudly in my car…)

Mr. Harris, not realizing the volume of his own voice turned to me and said;
” I told you this ain’t no church. Take me out, take me out, take me out……” I quickly got up and wheeled him back to his room. For the rest of the afternoon, he wheeled himself around the facility, fixated on finding the “church service.” The nurses charted on him stating he had increased confusion….” Did he? Was he really more confused? Or, did we set him up to be confused?

I wonder how advanced the world will be when you and I are “nursing home” ready……will we not understand the technology and jargon speak to us in? Will robots be providing our care? Regardless of what happens, will you make sure that I am dressed in my Sunday Best, wheeled to the activity room for church service….and placed right up front…..I might just know the words to the songs………………



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