Working with the elderly is a very special job. I have worked in nursing homes and in-home care with people who need a pair of young hands to help them with tasks that they can no longer do by themselves. With patience and care, one can obtain a bond with his or her client in a way that no other job can offer. It can be very frustrating at times, painful even, but in the end it is very rewarding.
I was working at such a home in Rochester where the people in the memory ward were a joy to work with. These patients had Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
There was one lady who had severe dementia and couldn't communicate very well. She had such a happy spirit, though. Every time an aid came to help her eat, or bring her to activities, she would reach out and touch the girl's scrubs and say "So pretty!" She would do the same for the girl's hair.
When we would get Viv to her chair and sit her down, she would lean back and smile. She wanted to say thank-you, but she had forgotten how. Her face told the whole story. Of all the people I worked with, I felt most appreciated by this woman. She wanted so badly for her helpers to know what they meant to her.
A year later, Viv got very sick. She was on hospice care and we were doing everything to keep her comfortable. She had pain medication every 4 hours, though when I got into her room to administer it, I could tell that the last dose had completely worn off.
We got the meds in her, yet there wasn't a lot of relief. I was trying to talk to her, but she wasn't hearing me. She kept asking "What?" and screwing up her eyes to try and hear me. I knew our only option was to wait for the meds to take effect, but she was so uncomfortable.
Then I noticed a Bible on her bedstand. I prayed that if her ears couldn't hear me, perhaps her spirit would.
I opened to I Corinthians 13 and read it to her and my coworker who was with me. That was Grandpa George's favorite chapter. As I began reading, I could see relief seep into her face. She began to relax. Her grip on my hand loosened. While I was reading the description of love (it is patient, it is kind) a slight smile flashed on her lips and she began nodding. As I said the words, "Love never fails," Viv was fast asleep.
I finished the chapter and was reminded what life is all about.
"So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."