This last week while engaged in a word memory game with several residents at the memory care center, an alarm went off. Needless to say it startled me and provoke a quick reaction. One of the residents was trying to go out an emergency door. As I bolted over to the hallway leading to the door I saw a man (who I have told literally over a hundred times that this alarm would sound and he could not get out the door) standing at the exit trying to get out. Without thinking an anger rose up in me. Why did this guy do this. Why did not listen to what I say.
I had no right to be angry with this individual. He was not responsible. He thought he would find his wife on the other side of the door. This was his reality. He lives in the center because his disability keeps him from functioning fully in our reality. He has very little short term memory.
I start to raise my voice telling the man he could get in trouble for setting off the alarm (no he couldn’t). Luckily (providentially) there was another worker close by who came over and gently hugged the man and told him everything would be alright (I have often wondered if this worker is really an angel in disguise). I felt horrible about my initial reaction. I said a quick prayer asking for forgiveness for my attitude.
Let there be no doubt, the obstacle of trying to live a life with dementia is not an easy task. Working with an individual with dementia takes patience, no, it demands patience. I will pray for more and more of this wonderful state in my life. It is the least I can do for those who bravely live with their struggle with dementia.