A couple days a week I visit with an elderly gentleman named Gordon and provide different therapy services for him to help improve his quality of life. Gordon was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease about 3 years ago and I have had the pleasure of knowing him for the last year and a half. He never remembers my name but he remembers my face and recognizes me as someone he knows but simply can't recall how he knows me or what my name is. He is the sweetest man and I really enjoy the time I get to spend with him.
Unfortunately, today he was having a bad day and it broke my heart to see him not his cheerful self. He lives in a special care unit one town over from where I live and when I walked in and greeted him he broke into tears and the first thing he said was "God sent you to me!" I asked him why he thought that and he replied "Because today felt like doomsday, I felt like I didn't care if I kicked the bucket and then you came!" I gave him the biggest hug and told him that I hated to hear that he was feeling so low today and was certainly thankful for him and loved him very much. His eyes lit up! I brought him a Wendy's frosty and I think that made the day infinitely better for him too! :)
I mention this for several reasons....one being that I was extremely burdened for Gordon because of his hopeless statement but I was at the same time angered because that statement means that he is not getting the loving care he needs and deserves from the staff where he now lives. All it takes sometimes is just sitting down with someone and telling them you appreciate them, you love them and that you look forward to seeing them during the week. A simple hug or placing your hand on theirs is therapeutic in itself. He may not be fully aware of what is going on all the time, due to the disease, but he knows how he feels and he should never feel the way he did today.
I also mention this because I am going to miss him so much when we move to Switzerland! He has become like my surrogate grandpa I have grown to love him like he was family. Perhaps that is why I got so upset after learning about his depressive mood. When you love someone you want the best for them and you want to see them happy...not sad!
I am also a Recreation Therapist for an elderly support group that meets every week. It is made up of about 30 elderly adults with varying ranges of dementia...most of which are very high functioning. I have grown to love each of them as well and will miss them terribly too when we move! There is something wonderful about that generation of people that I love and admire. They have lived through so much and have so much wisdom and morals. I prefer being around elderly people than I do my own generation most days! You can learn so much from them!
I have a passion for people in general. I love the elderly, I love kids and I've recently discovered that I love teens too! Thinking ahead I know that I want to be involved with all of these age levels. I plan to continue my volunteering in older adult community settings, and also continue to do various youth outreach opportunities and be involved with kids somehow too. Once we return to the United States, Jared is very supportive of my dream to open my own studio and pursue my career in portrait photography. Then I will be able to do all of the things I love, volunteer with all age groups, photograph children and families and one day raise a family of our own with the flexibility my other dreams will provide! Thinking about the wonderful possibilities that are in the future are enough to make my head float off my shoulder! :) Our time in Switzerland is going to be an awesome experience that I have no doubt will shape my future dreams! Thankful for the journey so far and the awesome adventures ahead! God is so good!