It is often thought that because someone with dementia may not call us by name or be able to recall a memory of something we have done together, that they are incapable of having meaningful relationships. It’s funny that I feel so connected with our residents, but they almost never have called me by name. I’m OK with that. They never look at me like they don’t know me. We have our own ways of interacting with one another that just feels right. At our Prairie Elder Homes, we believe that our residents are capable of and deserve to have meaningful relationships. Our caregivers work to foster those relationships and connect with our residents on the most human level. Greeting someone in the morning with excitement for the day, sharing an embrace, laughing together, crying together, and making something together are just a few of the essentially human interactions we share each and every day.
We have the special opportunity in our work to build relationships based on shared moments that our residents are capable of now. We go beyond just providing care; we want to help them build a life with us. It may be a much simpler version of their old life, but it is still one based on basic human interactions. Predictable routines, combined with a feeling of safety and love can be the recipe for good living. Being called by name is overrated. Here at Prairie Elder Homes, I am recognized by my smile and the human connections that I have shared with our residents. I can’t recall ever getting a warm fuzzy feeling from being called by name. However, I get warm fuzzy feelings everyday with our residents when I know they are happy or when we have made a connection. Building relationships with people with dementia is one of the most fulfilling roles I have had in my lifetime. I highly recommend it!