Posts Tagged ‘know the patient’

I played my baritone uke and we sang “Good Old Mountain Dew.” A lovely and smartly dressed white-haired lady sang every verse.  When we finished, I asked her, “How does a classy woman like you know every word to that song?”  She laughed and her eyes began to twinkle.  “Ah,” she said, “I have a history.”

Not an unusual story–except for the fact that she is a resident in a secured (read, locked) unit in an Alzheimer’s facility.  Her humorous, wise words made me stop and think.  I looked around the little music room where “Elaine’s Band” plays every Friday.  Every resident there has been diagnosed with the disease.  Yet each reacts to it in a different way.  And each member of the staff approaches the disease differently.  We all have our own personal history, and we cannot help bringing that history to our work as volunteers, or caregivers, or patients.

My mother spent nearly fifteen years in that facility.  In order to help her on the difficult journey to the end, I had to know her history–and my own. In The Caregiver’s Choice, I include two chapters addressing these intimate histories.  “Know the Patient,” in which I discuss all those traits and habits and lifestyle choices which a patient brings to an illness, gave me insights into my mother’s way of dealing with challenges.  That insight helped me to use her strengths in her care.  “Know Yourself,” in which I dug into my own habits and likes and dislikes, helped me to understand what I could do and could not do in caring for my mother (and my husband) through their terminal illnesses.  Such clarity about our histories made me feel more peaceful about the choices I made as a caregiver.

You know, it feels odd not to be telling you this story over a cup of coffee–just the two of us–in a one-on-one conversation.  I’m new to blogging.  I know that out there somewhere is a person who would feel comforted to know that I care about his or her caregiving burdens.  But I’m not young.  I was born before television, grew up without much technology, and this method of meeting doesn’t quite fit me yet.  If you have comments about blogging, I’d like to hear them.  If you want to know more about me, check www.elainelong.com    If you’re a caregiver, remember, you’re a generous and wonderful person and I admire you.


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