Friday, November 25, 2011

Ma'am, Do You Need A Hand?

Two weeks ago I returned to my volunteer gig with the elderly.  I had been away from it since May.  When I walked back into the residence, it was as if I had never left.  I recognized the familiar faces and greeted each and every one of 'em with a warm, hello!  My first, two hours at the residence is spent with the elderly who have all their senses and can do for themselves.  I began, as usual, assisting the delightful employee, Jennifer, as she led the residents in exercises.  After that, I joined a table of elderly fellas for lunch.  We talked about any and everything.  One of the gentlemen, Bill, is new.  He seemed like a jovial type.  Interestingly enough, he lives there, but his wife doesn't.  I suspect he needs special care his wife can't handle on her own.  Sitting and dining with them is a hoot & a learning experience.  It gives me an opportunity to ask all sorts of questions about the aging process.  Just as I sometimes say to myself that I can't believe I'm 47 yrs old, they told me they say the same thing to themselves about their age, too.  See, people truly are more alike than they are different. --- It's when I go upstairs to the Alzheimer's floor that I begin to truly thank God for my blessings.  I venture to say that more than half the residents on this floor seem even more advanced in their dementia than I recall back in May.  It used to be that I only heard one woman screaming that she wanted to go home.  Now, there are two or three more women who let out gut-wrenching sounds without provocation.  Every time I heard the loud screaming, I went to the woman and talked to her to soothe her.  I also grabbed her hand and rubbed her fingers as I talked.  And, every time, talking quietly and rubbing their hands calmed them down.  I honestly don't see how the employees on that floor can do it day in and day out.  The noise would really get to me.  Since I'm only there for two hours, it doesn't get to me as much.  But I'd be lying if I said it didn't at all. --- Nobody knows what the future holds.  But the one thing I know for sure is that if I have breath for the next, several months, I'll be back with the elderly folks.  God bless 'em. 

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