I would like to share a recent experience I had while visiting a client with our Client Care Coordinator…
Allow me to share a little back story: this particular client is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She now has Aphasia, a degenerative disorder that effects a persons language capability. Once someone begins to develop aphasia, the person will slowly lose their ability to speak or when they do speak, others cannot understand what they intend to say due to the part of the brain that controls language is not able to tell the mouth what the brain would like to say. It can, for obvious reasons be very frustrating for a client who is trying to communicate something. But it can also be just as easily frustrating for a CAREGiver who needs/wants to be able to understand what their client is trying to say. It is especially disheartening when a client is struck with Aphasia and they always loved conversing with others, laughing and sharing stories about their past.
Such is the way of client X (as we shall call her). Client X loves to laugh and share stories. Or at the very minimum, always had a response when we would try to share stories with her. So… on this particular day, I would estimate that our client X had not spoken in months. And when she did try to talk, it never made sense. She still smiles and on occasion laughs. But we had given up hope of any moments of clarity, let alone, our old conversational client.
After changing this client, saying hi, getting her to laugh and helping her to eat a banana, I felt this day would be like any other… no words from client X. I was wearing some beaded bracelets and had the idea to place them on her wrists so she could play with them, feel their texture and maybe respond to the way I was reacting to how pretty she looked in jewelry (something she never wore anymore). I said to client X, “You look so pretty today. Aren’t these (pointing to the bracelets) pretty?” All of a sudden and as clear as any conversation that ever took place, client X said to me, “They are pretty.”
If I had not had our client care coordinator there as a witness, I would even say maybe I imagined the whole thing. But immediately D said, “Did you hear that? She said a whole sentence.”
”And it made sense!”, I said.
We both looked at one another, as our eyes grew misty, in disbelief. And that my friends, is what Home Instead Senior Care is all about. A bond. The love for a client. A desperate attempt to keep the spirit of a person, the essence of someone, the heart of client X intact until the very end. A CAREGiver never giving up and accepting that today is another day, but focusing on the positives and working to enhance the lives of our clients and their families. This was a moment shared and relished in by so many because of the knowledge of client X’s condition, the love and compassion we are share for her and the work we know God has called each of us to do.
We often say and think, that this work is rewarding and we are helping to change lives of seniors on a daily basis. But after several experiences, including this one, I would argue that really…. these clients are changing us. I know I will never be the same. I know that from this day forward, I will look at those ordinary beaded bracelets and see their beauty in the smile and one simple sentence from a special lady, who doesn’t remember her name, but still finds the joy in the simple things about life we often take for granted. How blessed are we to know her and to be in a position where God’s ministry in senior care can be fulfilled through our passion for our work, but also in our hearts.