Good Caregivers Are Like Good Friends

Lucy, a good caregiver in Boca Raton, Florida shared with me her experiences working with Mary, an 85-year-old lady with late stages Alzheimer's disease. Mary used to suffer from depression and took her medications as prescribed for. She lived alone except with a caregiver for almost ten years after her husband passed away and developed Alzheimer's disease in six of those years. Her family said as a result of the onset of her disease, Mary seemed to remain in limbo with her grief. Caregivers came and went but when Lucy started, the family noticed a remarkable difference in Mary's temperament. Mary just seemed less agitated and stopped wanting to sleep throughout the day. She finally seemed to enjoy their outdoor activities together and smiled more often. 

Mary couldn't call Lucy by name nor could she locate Lucy in a photograph even if Lucy was standing next to people that were of drastically different ages. But when Mary was with Lucy, Mary behaved as if she expected Lucy to be with her, and even introduced her as a "friend," something she never did before as her family also noted that Mary was resistant to the other caregivers around her, saying that she felt "mothered."

I asked Lucy what she did every day to help ease Mary's sadness. Lucy said that she did for Mary what she'd do for any friend: "I was just a good friend. I listened to her speak, I told her stories to amuse her, and when she was sad, I was there for her to let her be sad until she was ready for us to have fun again." 


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