Lessons from Working with Elderly

Do you ever have doubts that you are making a difference or that you are reaching someone?

I have a story to share that will make you think twice before second guessing yourself.

As you all know I work as a Personal Support Worker and I work with an elderly lady who had a severe stroke and has dementia. I have been working with her for over a year as I have seen her sadly in a way go from a vocal person to barely communicative. It is hard to watch knowing her story and all she has accomplished in her life (opera singer in England and ballet dancer in Europe plus avid gardener and horticulturist) to see her wheelchair bound, tube fed and barely communicating.

So lately I started to try to figure out what my role now is with her and if I making an impact. I talk to her about holidays, family, read to her all sorts of poetry and literature, do mini spa days and go for walks and sometimes do hand over hand crafts with her. I was questioning myself about whether there was a point to me being there and if I was even impacting her life positively.

So Friday, I was working with her and I was giving her a mini hand massage and applying cream before the PSW’s at Golden Manor put her back in bed and was trying to think of how to reach her or make her feel happy.

I went over to her stereo and put on her. Polish music (she is from Poland) and at first no response but then it seemed just she was trying to tap her hand to beat. Now this was cool but I couldn’t decide if it was a voluntary action or just involuntary movements, so I just smiled I myself.

After when they had put her to bed, I rewound tape and replayed and kind if went about doing documentation and such, she then would mutter “oh yeah” and all of a sudden I swear she started to try to hum to music. I was at an awe as it had been at least 6 months since she tried to speak or mutter a sound.

I have to say it made my highlight wheel for the day because it was validation that I was making a difference in her life and reaching her on some cellular level.

So the lesson and message I leave you with Is this – never underestimate the impact your life and your presence has on people.

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