I have been doing my externship in an Assisted Living home for seniors who need some extra help medically, but don't have to be stuck in a "nursing home". Most everyone does a good job caring for themselves and it has been really fun working there. They also have a wing called "memory support" for individuals with dementia or alzheimers. I have been assigned to work in that wing 2 days/week. It has been interesting to learn about dementia and see the effects it has on the mind and body. Not everyone who has dementia acts the same- I have been working with 2 ladies, both with dementia. One of them thinks the walls are melting, and that everyone has a taser, ready to get her. She also spends most of her time collecting "tazies" which are round silver balls that come out of the tv and vcr. The other resident doesn't hallucinate to that degree, but has a harder time with remembering why she is there. She thinks her husband is still alive and waits for him at night. Both ladies are so sweet and I have enjoyed getting to know them. It makes me sad to see what they go through, especially knowing that they really have no control over it. I had an amazing experience with one of the ladies, and wanted to share it.
The lady who doesn't really understand what is going on was just put on hospice care. What this means is that she is coming to the end of her life, and it is just a matter of time before she passes away. Probably within the next few weeks to a month. It is sad knowing that this is the final stage of her life, so I am hoping to just be kind and loving to her.
As I was helping her get to bed, she was in a really good mood and happy that I was with her. She asked if I'd get into the bed with her, so I laughed and told her that there isn't any room for me in the twin bed. She scooted over clear to the wall then patted the bed, saying that there was room now. I couldn't tell her no, so I laid down next to her in the bed. She kept looking at me and smiling as I rubbed her shoulder or played with her hair. I then felt impressed to ask her if I could sing her a song. She said yes, so I thought about what to sing. I knew she was LDS, so I thought that I would sing some Primary songs. I started with "I am a Child of God". She smiled the whole way through and then I sang "I love to see the Temple". She said she really liked that one. At this point, I am crying because of the spirit I could feel there but I kept going. I sang "Families can be together forever". She started to cry a little and I knew it was because she felt the spirit so strong. She kept looking around the room and gazing up to the ceiling. She talked a little bit about her grandpa and her husband and at that moment, I wondered if the veil was thin for her.
I then sang "I am a child of God" one more time, but with all the verses. It was while singing this song that I KNEW she was a daughter of our Heavenly Father that loved her more than I will ever understand. For a brief moment, she wasn't a resident with dementia. She wasn't someone who was going to die soon. She was a spirit sister of mine and I felt so connected to her. She lay there and kept saying she loved me, and I really felt like she meant it. That she was there with me, and it wasn't her dementia talking. After laying next to her for a few more minutes, the other CNA came in and I went to go help the other resident.
I am so grateful for this experience I had. It has made me realize that no matter what the condition of our mind, we can still feel the spirit. Our spirit is something that is always with us and it can connect or speak to other spirits. We had a connection last night that Heavenly Father allowed us to share. I am even more grateful for the Holy Spirit and what it is able to do to comfort us and help us feel of our Savior and Heavenly Father's love.
I decided to go into nursing to help just one patient have a better experience than I have had in the past. I really do want to help people and have them feel loved. If I end up not ever getting my RN, I will be at peace knowing that what I did for Maxine was more than anyone else could have done at that moment. I was needed and was able to help her.
I am grateful for having an eternal perspective and understanding that because of Jesus and His Atonement for us, death really has lost it's sting and we will be able to be in the arms of Christ again. This gospel is amazing and the power and knowledge it gives us is something I hope to never take for granted. I am a changed person because of this experience and I pray that I see Maxine again when she is whole. I can not wait to give her a hug and let her know just what she has done for me.