The Connection of Strangers

We are pleased to welcome guest contributor Greg Zinner. While Greg is not a caregiver by trade, this post shows how the caregiver-resident relationship can create valued connections beyond the home. Greg is the author of the running blog Mystical Miles.

My friend who is a CNA often shares about the importance of her elderly residents having contact with the outside world.

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I’m a lifelong runner who participates yearly in fifteen to twenty races and other running based events. Through my friendship, residents of one particular long term care facility get to share in my triumphs and travails out on the asphalt and trails. I’m told on days I race they will eagerly await the results. Or voice concerns such as “it’s too hot for him to be running!”. Or ask questions like “what will he eat and drink during a thirty mile race?”. Or… is “your friend crazy?”

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But overall perhaps they can relate. They can relate to someone who is kind of at the margins in what society considers its norms. They can relate to what it’s like to struggle, to be in pain, and to want to give up some days.

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The photo below (editor: due to HIPAA concerns, displayed in segments through the post) was sent to me after I completed a rugged fifty mile trail race in the Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Virginia. I almost wept with joy when I saw, as did my friends who traveled and raced with me. For I felt like my running was a part of something much, much bigger than aid stations and finish lines. I got to bring a little joy hopefully to some wonderful people hundreds of miles away. Perhaps making their day just a little bit brighter.

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