More than forty years ago,I took care of my first Alzheimer’s patient. Back then we called a patient confused. The trade marks were the same: little by little the mind ebbs and the memory recedes.
I have learned much as I have looked through the window of an elderly person’s life. There is a store house of information, experience, history that is so close. My challenge as a caregiver is to find the key that unlocks the treasure chest.
By the time I enter a client’s life, they have “lost” quite a bit of memory. But there is always some treasure if I am patient. “Patient” is the operative word – I cannot have an agenda, be pushy or in a big hurry.
Mary loves children and she most often sets the tone for the conversation. Her years of experience as a school teacher are like gold for me as my other life is teaching African children. It is a joy to hear children in the background of her life.
Today- I grasped at another treasure – we look good in the same colors. She chose several outfits that would look good on either of us. Last week we had a pillow fight and got into a fit of laughter. She asked me a puzzle of a question; I asked her one in return.
Each day we find what we can do not what we can’t do and it works.
I am not inferring that caring for a person with Alzheimer’s is easy – It is Not! As the wave recedes, I am sorrowful for the yesterdays that are lost. But my hand is going to clasp hers and be grateful that there are more days filled with treasure if I am ready to hunt for it.
I was taught from before I was able to talk the value of the elderly, the importance of honor, and the lessons I could learn if I listened closely. I am sad for a generation that places so little value for those past a certain age. Because of this attitude, there are lessons unlearned/ history unheard.
There is more reality than metaphor in this poem and a gratitude beyond expression that I hold for those who taught me to reach for the stars.
I’m also sharing a link to rewrite of a fictionalized story of an elderly patient – here
I spent so many years carrying for the elderly and one thing is consistent: they wait looking at the door like a forlorn dog. Some family shows up (eventually) others send a card or plant in their stead. There are edges to Christmas that are sad and lonely. If you have the ability to spill a little light into another’s holiday – Please Do!!!
The invisible spectera master of fatestealing vitalityweakness is the new state
clouds of gray creep inaltering a once comely face the mirror an enemyunrecognizable left in its place
the crafty meddler of the mindspoils often the richest chestscattering knowledge to the breezeputting memories to the test
The specter takes everythingfrailty and uncertainty remainbent, gaunt, colorless, shella shadow is cast over nothing
I revived this piece from one of the original poems I posted on this blog. I wrote this while working as a private duty nurse for a dear lady of 90. I loved the bits and pieces of the word that I got to see in spite of the Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is devastating for the elderly and their families – one reason I cherish each moment I have with aging family members. Hug a family member today ~ just because…
This poem is selected to share with a wonderful and lively group of poets at Poet’s United. The Poetry Pantry give a weekly opportunity to share a poem you have written – join the fun!
There they were peeking out from under the green foliage
red against the green so distinct
a little worn but they reminded me of my youth ( laying things here and there)
then your smile joined mine for a moment
your white hair and wrinkles were no disguise for the young heart hidden in the garden
Once again ~ Flash Fiction in 55 words – always a challenge no kinder host will you find in G-Man!
For those of you who regularly visit my site please forgive me for being remiss on my blogsite. I am the throws of publishing and along with that am part of the Kindle Book Review team oh and am gathering speed for my thesis so I am swamped to say the least….