Happy National Assisted Living Week!
The theme for this year’s National Assisted Living Week is “Nourishing Life: Mind, Body, and Spirit.” Nourishing life for their residents is exactly what our hardworking caregivers do each and every day, on the front lines in assisted living communities across the nation. This dedicated group of professionals is responsible for nurturing and sustaining a high quality of life for all those entrusted to their care. Theirs is a very important job- accomplished daily by caring hearts and hands that reassure forgetful minds and fragile bodies.
One particular example of this dedication comes to mind when I think about Sarah, a caregiver at an assisted living community who fortunately was able to comfort a dying resident. Grace, a fiercely independent woman, had been struggling with Parkinson’s disease for years. Grace refused to use a wheelchair, even though she had to leave her room 30 minutes early every day just to walk to the dining room. Even though Grace fell several times a day, she refused assistance in getting up from the floor. Sarah and the other caregivers would patiently wait while Grace positioned herself on her hands and knees until she had enough strength to pull herself up while holding onto a chair.
During dinner one evening, Grace began to have a seizure. Paramedics and family members were called immediately, but unfortunately Grace expired before they arrived. Sarah was able to hold Grace’s hand and comfort her during the last moments of her life. Grace’s family was relieved and grateful that Sarah had been there, and that their mother was not alone when she passed.
Another example of caregivers making a difference is the story of Casey. One of Casey’s residents, Joyce, was a memory care resident with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Joyce’s closest relative was a daughter who lived a thousand miles away. Joyce was beginning to forget her children’s names and Casey asked her company to download Skype, so that Joyce and her daughter would be able to communicate online. In those days, Skype was relatively new and the community did not have the most up-to-date internet service. Casey and Joyce’s daughter would schedule a Skype session each week and Casey would cross her fingers and hope that the connection would hold until they finished talking. Sometimes Casey would bring in her own laptop so that she and Joyce could travel through the building searching for the strongest wireless signal!
The Skype sessions proved to be very beneficial for both Joyce and her daughter, even though the conversation was exactly the same each time. It was a way for Joyce’s daughter to reconcile her own guilt for living so far away and to remain in Joyce’s life for a bit longer.
These are just two of many stories relating to the dedication and professionalism of caregivers that occur, on a daily basis, at communities all across the US. Often these caregivers become a resident’s primary support system, since their family members are sometimes scattered throughout the country, while designated family caregivers are working and taking care of their own families.
Relias Learning would like to express a huge THANK YOU to each of the caregivers and healthcare professionals whom we are fortunate enough to serve!