wings and things

The thank you thing

on February 8, 2015

It struck me this afternoon, during my shift in the dementia house, that people with dementia don’t get thanked very often. After all, they are the recipients of care so are always saying thank you to us (family/friends/staff).

B, who is always wanting to be busy (because she was one of 12 children and their mother was a perfectionist in every way) is constantly anxious and quite bossy to the other residents sometimes. Her agitation is heartbreaking and, as she is extremely mobile and physically fit, she sometimes challenges the patience of staff.

After dinner tonight I threw the old towels I’d brought in the other day onto a table (an idea suggested by another staff member) and B proceeded to fold them all, meticulously. I helped her with a particularly big towel and, once we had finished, I thanked her rather profusely.

Me: Thank you so much, B. I couldn’t have done this without you.
B: Oh darling, anything I can do to help. I was one of 12 and my mother was a hard worker. Everything was starched and cleaned and perfect, washed, ironed, starched. And we had to get the littlies to bed, changing nappies, cooking tea.
Me: I think you must take after your mother, B.
B: Oh no, I could never do what she did. Do you want me to help you with the dinner, love?
Me: I think I can manage tonight, B, you just sit down and I’ll serve the soup.
B: What about this old lady here?
Me: Just keep her company, B!

I probably haven’t written this very coherently but my point is that when I thanked B for helping me with the folding, she looked at me with her beautiful, bewildered expression, then grasped my hand and said, “So what do we do next?”

Me: I thank you, B!

45 responses to “The thank you thing

  1. Everyone needs to feel important, I think that we forget that when people get old. You are awesome Jules!

  2. cecilia says:

    Just folding the laundry every day will fill her with so much pleasure.. I bet there are many small tasks she can do, did you ever read that story I wrote about the old ladies in the rest home kitchen? Let me know if you didn’t I will find it for you.. I would like you to read it now. c

  3. susanpoozan says:

    You are so thoughtful of other people, well done.

  4. bulldog says:

    Lovely share Julie… you sure seem to be enjoying yourself, it shines through in your posts….

  5. tersiaburger says:

    This is such a beautiful post. I asked my dad to help me in the garden. He was so proud of his accomplishments. What a dreadful disease this is.

    • jmgoyder says:

      It is easier on some sufferers than others – not fair. Of the ten women, three are highly agitated a lot of the time whereas the other seven seem quite content.

  6. Colline says:

    We often forget that these women just need to feel useful – even if it is just to do simple things. When my gran was alive she always made dinner no matter how tired she was. She said it made her feel useful to contribute something to the household.

  7. The elderly and those with dementia I would suppose feel they have lived their lives and in a sense they don’t need or expect any thanks anymore… but I think no matter what our age, we do need this… even to be thanked for advice given or a smile given . Everyone has something we can thank them for…. You gave that to ‘B’. Diane

  8. Anonymous says:

    B – eautiful!!! Thank you – for sharing such a heartwarming story. There’s something about feeling helpful and purposeful that contributes to self-worth and good feelings. So you did even more for Ms. B than giving her the opportunity to B thanked.

    • jmgoyder says:

      The beauty of the folding is that it can be done over and over again. I take the folded towels into another room, rumple them up again then bring them back.

  9. Beautiful Julie! Everyone needs to know that they are needed. ❤
    Diana xo

  10. Rhonda says:

    Sometimes being useful is thanks enough. I’m not surprised you found a way to make B feel useful Jules. xoxo

  11. You wrote it wonderfully well Julie. I had a fella who took care of his very aged mother. Her Alzheimer’s was so bad, she could not articulate. Her hands were always picking at things, things around her, or even at her own self. Her son would buy day old bread by the dozens of loaves and let her pick it part. She was a farmer her entire life, and she needed to be busy. He would then feed the bread to the animals. I thought it was a wonderful way of her being useful and included. And thanked.

  12. Terry says:

    You are a beautiful soul. I love what you do for others

  13. My Heartsong says:

    Good point. They need to be “part of” Well, we all do. And look how much you learned about this person when you said thank you.Very interesting.

  14. tootlepedal says:

    A word of thanks never goes amiss in my experience.

  15. Vicki says:

    Everyone likes to feel appreciated, but more importantly, Everyone deserves respect….from one year old to centenarian AND from all walks of life, from the rubbish collector who I walk past with a smile and a ‘Good Morning’ to the Prime Minister.

    Good manners are mandatory in my book too.

    I might suggest B. could help out with simple tasks more often, but I know the Occupational Health & Safety (?) laws in Australia might preclude a fair bit. I found that out very quickly in my last job (before I retired).

    I’m glad you were able to give B. a feeling of value in the Nursing Home. You probably ‘made her day.’ Vicki x

  16. This is a fascinating concept and one I forget with my mother who is now ailing. I will remember next time and thank you for this inspiration.

  17. I think it was wonderful that you asked her to help it made her feel less useless, I sometimes thank my nanna for being a wonderful woman just because I think it is nice to hear things like that from time to time

  18. lensgirl53 says:

    You are so thoughtful, my friend. You are a true treasure to the patients with dementia. I know it is comforting to those families who leave their loved ones in your care.

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