As this care placement draws to an end it has bought with it a mixed bag of emotions. My dementia client was being moved into a care home and my initial response was one of anger and resentment because I knew in my heart that it wasn’t his time…
I felt sad that he had been dealt a hand that he had no say in, but at the same time realised that I could not ‘walk in the shoes’ of those making the decisions on his behalf and that my anger had manifested due to frustrated expectations.
If I was honest with myself though it was time for me to move on – ‘my cup was empty’ and I longed for a situation where I could open myself up to receiving – whether it be in small welcomed gestures, loving contact or intellectual conversation. I had become a product of my environment and was starting to find it exhausting to be with a client who after 18 months or so (and through no fault of his own) still had problems with remembering my name!
Thomas’s Story and Looking Back
As I look back on this time I also feel tremendous appreciation for the lessons learned – most of them documented weekly in the form of a blog. When times were difficult I conceded that I needed to ‘pat myself on the back’ because no one else was going to do it – I had to look at things differently – from someone else’s perspective and appreciate the lesson despite the circumstance
“Thomas knocked frantically on the door at 4 am – “I need some help” . Bleary-eyed and exhausted I stumbled out of bed to be met with a rather unwelcoming task. There he was pyjamas around his ankles and covered in faeces from top to bottom. Eventually all sorted – Thomas was warm and comfortable back in his bed with clean sheets and warm duvet. With his blue eyes peering out from under the covers I said “I am so sorry that you had to go through this” then out of the blue the unexpected response “thank you so much for helping me” he said – it was the first and last time I was to be thanked in the 3 months I have been here but at that moment it felt like I had won the lottery!
Vascular dementia, as we know is a degenerative disease that slowly takes away the independence of normal living. The space between remembering things starts to decrease and basic activities become more difficult with added frustration – having visitors then 5 mins later wondering when they are coming, brushing your teeth and 2 mins later repeating it – going to bed and getting up 4xs in space of 20mins!
As I left this position and looked forward to new opportunities – I have to say that my heart was heavy but full of gratitude. As much as I have supported Thomas physically and emotionally he had given me the gift of growth and expansion, and as much as I believed that the ‘giving’ was pretty much one-sided I soon realized that I had received more ‘hidden gifts’ than I could ever have imagined.
The secret of Redwood forest
This beautiful story told by ‘Radhanath Swami’ explains how Nature gives Humanity a very crucial lesson – how we are the caretakers of divine property and the wisdom is to understand the simple universal principle that in GIVING we RECEIVE.
These are amongst the largest trees on the planet and some of them are centuries old. In all this time, even though their roots do not grow deep they have withstood the power of nature’s formidable elements – so what is their underground secret? It comes down to their roots – they reach outwards seeking the roots of other Redwood trees and when they meet they intertwine making a permanent bond with each other – this meant that all the trees are directly or indirectly supporting each other – giving of themselves and receiving strength in return.
These ancient giants are unified in their reciprocal, symbiotic relationships that benefit all concerned.
As carers, we need to appreciate the valuable lessons imbued in each experience even if they are not immediately obvious!
Farewell Thomas may you continue to delight others with your sense of humour, and your remarkable energy and may the ‘night staff’ in your new home enjoy your hourly visits to the toilet!