Thursday, November 17, 2011

we medicate the hell out of them

You wouldn't believe how often people ask if I like working in an Alzheimer's unit.  Some of them are the grown children of my residents and they rarely visit because their mother is a threat, a reminder that the end is inevitable and steamrolling their way.  They talk volumes at me, instructions on what I should be doing. You don't know your mother anymore, I want to say, her disease has changed her.  I show these insensitives no mercy. "Yes, I do like working in a nursing home.  Old people are so grateful and the ones that aren't we medicate the hell out of them."

 I wouldn't be anywhere else. Casey is my resident and thirty-one years ago Casey's son interviewed me for a job at their family jewelry store, it was the year I left my husband. I needed work and I thought why not a jewelry store and surely there would be commissions paid out on this expensive glittery stuff.  No, Casey's son told me.  No commissions, we don't want the staff competing against each other, bad feelings. And what he meant was: you all the get the same lousy minimum wage salary.  You cheap bastard, I thought, I got some bad feelings for you right here and then he went on to inform me since it was the Christmas season not to plan on spending time with my family.  I would be there at the store every night and weekend and all the miserable hours in between. That guy was just like his old man and Casey is one cantankerous, sewer-speaking, inappropriate dude and that would be the nice way to put it.

The staff is afraid of him, especially the housekeepers as they scurry around the dining room cleaning tables and floors after the evening meal. Casey has a keen eye and he will kick over their bucket of water if they don't move quickly enough.  He points out every missed crumb and gravy stain and will curse them like the evil pirate he is should they miss one.  I ignore Casey's taunts, what else can I do, he has Alzheimer's disease and most dementia patients fall into one of two categories, "pleasantly confused" (which will be my legacy when I am diagnosed although friends tell me I am already there) and, "aggressively mean and paranoid" and here Casey is firmly planted like a barnacle under a ship.  I'll sit him down with a 24-piece puzzle, some ditsy Disney character puzzle, and when Casey focuses his tyrannical tendencies are left behind.   And tomorrow and the day after and the day after I'll give Casey the same puzzle and he won't remember.

1 comment:

AmySueRose said...

There are days I miss working in Memory Care. There's nothing more rewarding than when you connect, no matter how brief the moment.