One of the most difficult things I face in my new position is listening to other staff members talk to the senior adult residents as if they were children. Yes, they have problems remembering things. Yes, sometimes their behavior seems childish or absolutely non-rational. However, they are still people. They are beings created in the image of God and deserve respect and dignity. They do not deserve to be talked down to or treated as if they are juvenile delinquents.
It is bad enough that they have lost their freedom. It is bad enough that they have to struggle to function and grasp why that are denied access to their rooms or limited in the decisions they can make. It is bad enough that they no longer can control some of their bodily functions and/or have difficulty in speaking. They do not deserve to be drugged, lied too, and/or treated with lack of respect.
So what do I do? I cannot judge or correct. I do not have the right and I do understand the stress that caregivers for people with dementia face. So, I pray. I try to model a different way of treatment. I make sure that I do not fall into an attitude of superiority. I seek to show love and respect at every chance I get. I seek to help and never to hurt of diminish the dignity of those who I have the privilege to serve.
I have made a discovery. I have been given a treasure. The people I minister to with dementia are some of the most loving, caring, honest people I have ever encountered. They have a spiritual nature that is seeking and willing unlike many church members I have encountered. They are deeply thankful when I listen to them. They are profoundly grateful for prayers and attention. They also have the ability to care for one another. They are not children, but they can be very childlike in the manner Jesus told us we all should be. I am so looking forward to visiting them when they are fully restored in our life that is and is yet to come.