There are countless articles providing tips and information on how to communicate with someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia-related memory issues, but solutions are not always black and white. And, after it seems you’ve tried everything, disappointment, despair, and frustration are all you can feel. But sometimes, when you least expect it, a life-changing moment happens right before your eyes.
One such moment recently happened at our Autumn Hills Alzheimer’s Special Care Center in Bloomington, Indiana. After trying for quite some time to make a connection with one of her residents, Marissa Grimes, CNA at Autumn Hills, finally had an experience that changed her life forever.
Story as told by Alzheimer's Caregiver Marissa Grimes:
“Nancy was not always as excited to chat with me as I was with her, for the longest time I assumed she just wasn't interested in engaging too much. This was true. Throughout the week leading up to this video, I had been singing "You Are My Sunshine," over and over again and although Nancy repeatedly told me that I was “annoying” and "off key,” she would still snap her fingers along with me, or hum the lullaby. Then, out of nowhere, I finally got a positive reaction out of Nancy cold chills throughout my body — I WAS COMPLETELY SURPRISED!!
It happened when we were in the dining room getting ready to have supper. As usual, I was singing "You Are My Sunshine" over and over again as I was passing out plates. Other residents were singing with me and all the sudden Nancy just randomly started to sing along - I was just shocked. As I sat with her at dinner, her attitude was completely different - I finally found a way to make her smile, and that was an incredible victory in and of itself.
Nancy always preferred to go to bed early, so after supper, I assisted her to her room and as I helping her get ready for bed she "taught" how to sing in the correct key. Once I covered her up, she began to sing the song and with the okay, I pulled out my camera - I knew I just had to get this moment on video.
I will always cherish this moment we shared, and as a young caregiver, because of Nancy, I will most definitely pursue a career in the health field. Nancy left a huge impact on me and I hope watching us sing together shows other caregivers to slow down and enjoy their time. Your residents enjoy the time you spend with them, even if they say they don’t want to.”
Thank you for your story with us Marissa. The love and care you show to your residents is absolutely priceless.