I am sitting down tonight, writing! I am fighting every day for our people in our Home, to be honoured, respected and loved. And to be handled with absolute gentle care.
Visitor, do you realise your responsibility?
One word, one comment, even a look, a gesture from you can be picked up by our people, and that can influence their whole existence!
Before you get out of your car to come and visit, ask yourself the question. Am I at a good place in my life? Am I relaxed? Am I happy? Am I sitting here looking forward to this visit or am I just here because it is time, or because I am feeling guilty? Will my visit add value to the person’s day? Am I strong enough and patient enough to listen to the same story over and over? And even more…will the home and all the residents enjoy me being around? Will I respect their home and their lives….and be the loving Visitor?
We went out for the day…
All were in such high spirits! We went for a morning at the Gwaiing Mouth! Watched the river flowing into the sea, watched the blackness of the water twist and turn into the foam of the blue ocean. And to our delight, twelve little brown children ran down the steep road, and played in the water just below us! Elders laughing with little ones…the sound of their laughter mingling with the sound of the water.
And then a visit!
A devastated old lady, with a wet tissue, too crumbled to wipe away all the tears streaming down the wrinkles of her face was sitting in her room. Luckily I had a whole shopping bag in my hand, and I played with her for a while, and she gave a little smile, while trying to see what was inside! Being the sweet tooth she is, I had her attention. I tried to keep the green of her eyes locked in mine, tried to make her feel safe, and after a while she felt it … my energy, she felt! I didn’t ignore the pain inside of her, I acknowledged it with a soft hug around her full soft body, but I made sure, she saw the love in my eyes, and the care in my hands, and I made sure she repeated my smile with hers.
And then she told me she had a visit!
And she didn’t know her son is dead!! And she didn’t know her daughter came to visit her last week!
And she sobbed….and I…sobbed…
But only for a while….I let her sob.
And she said; “How can I be such a terrible mother? How can I forget that my own son is dead? How can I not know that my daughter came to visit me? I do not deserve to be a mother! How can I be such a bad mother?
And we sobbed….because I am a mother, and she is….and we cried for what we forgot…
She was mourning her son.
She didn’t know that he is dead.
She did not remember.
And a visitor, ignorantly told her so….
” But your son died many years ago. “she said.
” But your daughter came to visit you last week.” she said.
Yes, you are a wonderful mother to your son!
Yes, your daughter will come to visit you soon!
What do I say to the women with her long grey hair, asking for her Mother every day around sun set? Do I tell her to look in the mirror, to look at her own grey hair! Do I tell her she is 80 something, how can her mother still be alive? Or do I hold her fragile body close to me, and reassure her that her mother will be home soon. And when I put her to bed at night, with my head sharing her pillow, do I help her right when she calls me, ‘Aunty”.
“Visitor, you have a special responsibility towards your loved ones living in the world of Dementia!
Why is the truth not important to us anymore? Because we can’t remember….and please do not try and help us to remember some things that will hurt. Let us remember the things we want to….and the way we want it to be…
Visitor! You have a responsibility!