Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Maybe It Is Us Who Need To Learn

Becky wrote and said there is a time for everything. She's right. There is a time for everything.

And my years of working with dementia patients have only cemented in my mind that when it is my time to die, let me go gently with dignity and love when I begin to go naturally. I'll fight with everything in me for life if I am young and my kids and grandkids need me, but if I have dementia, let me go when I first begin to go. Give me that much dignity.

That saying, I love caring for dementia patients. I see in them God's image, and I value and respect them for building the world I live in. I minister to their needs with as much gentleness and love as I can in the time they have. That love may just show itself in a hug, a goodnight kiss, in dignity while helping them in the bathroom, or singing to them while I shower them. I may laugh at what they say when I am not with them, but with them I show them the respect and gentleness that I would love to be shown even if I can't remember that toothpaste goes in my mouth and not on my hair.

My grandma died of Alzhiemers, and I was impressed by the love my grandfather showed her even until the day she died. He was there every day, all day. When the nurses told him one day to take more time off and don't come in because she doesn't remember you anyway, he looked them in the eyes and gently but firmly told them, "She may not remember me, but I remember her."

It is these families who never visit until someone is dying and then are horrified and insist on fighting hard only to go back to never visiting again once the person has pulled through it that bother me!

But I have been sickened also by watching families, even Christian families, drop off a parent and stop visiting once dementia sets in to a certain stage. Even to the point that we can't get them to respond when their parent needs new clothes. Many of our patients would have no clothes if we, the workers, did not buy them clothes from our own money because there is no one there and we get tired of dressing people in rags! We do it because we care about them, but we fume over families who don't.

It is one area that I wonder if the "over there" people have it much better that we do "over here". They may lack skills, but generally they hold on to respect and care even when their family member is old.

So this is a place God has me working temporarily while we are "here, not there". Where He puts me, I seek to be a blessing. And very soon, I get to take a trip "over there" to teach some of the same caring skills I use over here. I may teach skills, but I suspect I could learn from their attitude.

1 comment:

Becky Aguirre said...

I think our culture has definitely lost a lot of respect for our elders...there's something to say about families who care for the elderly in their homes until the end. What better way to live out your days than by being surrounded by family?