Talking, Holding, Listening and Just Being There

Someone left a comment saying, “You can also play randomized 4×4 and 6×6 games online at”

Sounds like KenKen is starting to catch on!

Well, now. There’s something I have to get off of my chest. For years during my practice, I tended to avoid working with the elderly and particularly those with dementia. And I didn’t know why. Part of me now wonders if it was related to some unconscious fear of getting it someday.

However, in retrospect, I realize that I never had any supervisors, professors and mentors during my training who emphasized working with the elderly. Because I always wanted to “help” patients, I had the erroneous thought that I couldn’t help the elderly.

Now I feel that I missed out on ministering to an important population. If only I knew then what I know now. It’s not just about giving them a drug and making the dementia disappear overnight. It’s about holding their hand. Talking to them. Just being with them without saying anything. Or listening to their “babbling nonsense.” Now I realize their “nonsense” was sensical and not just babbling. Yes, most of it was that there was no time to do that. Making rounds, talking with family members, doing endless paperwork, etc., makes it difficult to spend the time we’d like to give to patients. But, I could have made time. I did it for other patients and took that extra step. Now I regret that I missed out on giving so much to those who needed it the most.

But it’s not too late. We all have opportunities to help them. It’s the little things. Not just giving them pills and elixors. It’s treating them as real people who haven’t died. People who are still alive inside with feelings, emotions and needs. Just like everyone else. Just like children, they aren’t always able to make their needs known. But we hold babies and children even if we don’t know for sure what their need truly is. Why don’t we do that with the elderly?

Ok. I’ve admitted a fault from the past. I can’t change it. But I admit to it. As the expression goes. “If I only knew then what I know now and to be able to do it all over again.” Yes, it would be different. But life doesn’t work that way. It just helps us to now realize that we can do it over again but in the present!



6 Responses

  1. “Just like children, they aren’t always able to make their needs known. But we hold babies and children even if we don’t know for sure what their need truly is. Why don’t we do that with the elderly?”

    I love that! You’re right about that concept.
    I’ve just started a blog about working in Assisted Living and I do remark on dementia since I deal with it daily. I’d like you to read it when you have time.
    Thank you,

  2. Hello David,

    I love your honesty.
    We live in such an ageist society…the break down of the extended family, the worshipping of sporting heroes, seeking youthfull looks. Youth permeates through all our media and culture. And I too have experienced similar feelings to those which you talk about. Because I care for my father, at times I feel like I’m living the life of an elderly person. Plus (especially reading Barbara’s comments) of when I drop Dad at his weekly day care visit I have thought of the staff. And to be honest I don’t know how they do it on a daily basis. Do they experience those feelings of getting old before their time. I don’t think these people get enough recognition for the enormous service they provide to society. I take my hat off to people like Barbara.

  3. David, I don’t think we know how to talk to older people, until we have been exposed to it. We grew up, raised our children, and worked with our peers. I only knew one grandmother, and she was the matriarch, so to speak. I didn’t talk to her, although she would have me stay with her for a week at a time. I loved her and respected her, but didn’t talk with her. Come to think of it I couldn’t. I was nearly deaf. (Groan while rolling my eyes!)

    But, like you, now in my older age when I go to the nursing home I try to make it a point to hug the ladies.
    One watched me hug some at her table, and when I hugged her she cried.

    We don’t need to waste energy crying over spilled milk, but now we can do something. Acknowledging it in sincerity as you have done will help many.

    Yes, we all need love.

  4. More on KenKen:
    There are also Google Gadgets that you can add to any website including your iGoogle homepage at:×4-kendoku-and-kenken-online-gadget/×6-kendoku-and-kenken-online-gadget/

    • Thanks………….it’s already on my brain training page!


  5. Thanks!

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