At the end of my first year of work as a CNA, when it came time for my job evaluation, I was asked what my job goals were. I wrote, my goal as a CNA was for my residents to go to sleep smiling. Whatever the rest of the day might have been like, bedtime belonged to me. I wanted each resident to fall asleep feeling loved. As we did the bedtime ADLs I played lullabies on my IPod. I hoped that some positive feeling would stay with them through the night.
How horrible it must be for a person’s last experience of the day to be one of distress because someone rushed them, tugged at them impatiently, scolded them to hurry. Didn’t smile. Didn’t speak to them by name, maybe hardly made eye contact. Didn’t wish the resident goodnight as they left the room. (Didn’t kiss them goodnight!) Dementia can be a world of isolation, confusion, fear.
Confusion and fear, or love and joy: which will be my residents’ last companions of the day? We all know what kind of aides we want to be. But we let ourselves be pushed by ‘the system’ into being the kind of aides we ourselves don’t like. Don’t! Giving even just an extra two minutes to each resident, what a difference we might make at the end of their day.
There must be joy! For the sake of our residents. And for the sake of our own joy-seeking souls.