Why I Volunteer To Visit People With Alzheimer’s

Everyone wants to be needed. We all want to feel we’re making a difference in someone else’s life. We could even say it’s a universal human need.

When I began volunteering to visit some ladies with Alzheimer’s at Brookdale Senior Living’s Clare Bridge memory care facility in Overland Park, Kansas, I felt like I had something to offer them. Some company. Some entertainment. A way to pass the time on what might otherwise be an empty afternoon. That sort of thing.

Little did I know I’d receive so much more from these ladies than I could ever give them. If someone had told me that, I wouldn’t have believed it. I was only doing it to help others, not to gain some benefit for myself. Well, how wrong I was!

It really hit me one afternoon, when I returned home from my weekly visit with Ruth. (Her name has been changed to protect her privacy). I know I shouldn’t have a favorite, but I do. Ruth is my favorite.

She was quite confused that day. She told me that she had tried to rent an apartment that she liked very much, but before she could conclude the deal they fixed it up for someone else. I knew that wasn’t true, but I empathized with her. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” I said.

Then I changed the subject to something pleasant. “I see you have some See’s candy here. Do you want a piece?”

“Oh, yes,” she said. “Will you have a piece with me?”

“Of course,” I answered. “Gimme that box!”

After eating more pieces than I can say without embarrassing myself, I told her to save me some for the next week. She promised she would, and we laughed as we hid the box so no one else would come in and eat “my” candy.

We then discussed a wide range of topics. Among other things, she told me her son had locked her car in the garage, and so she couldn’t drive any more. Again I empathized with her, and again I subsequently changed the conversation to something more pleasant. We went right back and started laughing and talking about that candy and where we’d hidden it.

Source: The Huffington Post