The Life Transition Blog
Observations From The World Of Assisted Living
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Yesterday, I had the opportunity to participate in a health fair in a local assisted living community. I was able to engage with several residents and I couldn't help but think about some of the striking differences I observed.
Let's start with the residents themselves. The first lady I spoke with was very sweet, but completely out of touch with what was going on around her. She was calm, polite, and immaculately dressed and if you saw her at the cosmetics counter in Saks Fifth Avenue you wouldn't have thought for a minute that she was anything other than a sweet older lady. That said, upon spending just a few minutes chatting with her, it became clear that she was happily in her own world.
Along came a gentleman who, with the exception of a pronounced limp, looked and acted like he belonged on the golf course. He was charming, articulate, and I was wondering to myself why exactly he was living there, but I'm sure it made sense for him.
A few moments later, a gentleman stopped by in a blue blazer, a crisp dress shirt and trousers and dress shoes. He spoke in French for a few moments, and gave me the two minute version of his life story. And then, he gave it to me again, word for word. When he started in for the third time, it was clear that looks are definitely decieving.
Finally, a woman came in riding a scooter. She was the self-appointed leader of the book group and was concerned that she couldn't find her "flock". She had a mission, and that was to get her fellow residents to read and discuss great works, and to write their autobiographies as a legacy for their families. She and I spent quite a while talking about her frustration that so many of her peers didn't seem to think that anyone would be interested in their life stories. This lady was as together as most people half her age, and it was her body, not her mind that caused her to be there.
If you are a caregiver or a professional advisor for a senior, please remember that each of them are individuals. Don't assume that because their bodies have failed them that their minds are slow. And don't assume that if someone "looks fine" that they will be able to process everything that you are telling them. Each of these individuals is a blessing, and we all need to stop and spend the time to see that, even when we're busy doing what we do with and for them.