When I first decided I wanted to be a nurse, I knew I was going to be a geriatric nurse. I knew that was where I was meant to be. My first job as a caregiver was in an assisted living that was specifically for Alzheimer's and Dementia patients. It was my first time dealing with those who were confused, and at first, I didn't know what I was doing. Orientation consisted mostly of explaining where the supplies were, what the assignments were, and what was expected of me during a shift. I didn't have any expectations coming in as to how I would have to deal with the patients and their disease.
To my surprise, and probably the surprise of everyone, I loved the job. it was an amazing experience, and I found that I connected with these patients. I became fiercely protective of them, and a lot of it was because they couldn't protect themselves. I was their advocate, and I took that responsibility very seriously.
When I first became a nurse, I started applying for jobs in different skilled facilities, but there was one in particular that just felt right to me. It was a facility that was specifically for Alzheimer's and Dementia patients. It was probably one of the best jobs I've ever had, and the company itself was wonderful.
Whenever I talk about my time as a nurse or caregiver in those facilities, I'm met with surprise that I actually enjoyed my time there. people don't understand why I would want to spend time with people that are confused, and who don't remember who I am, even if I saw them a few minutes before.
After working in rehab and in the hospital, I can say that the reason why I love Alzheimer's so much is the clean slate. I go in and talk to the patient, and no matter what, it's wiped clean. They don't remember. Now, that may not seem like a good thing, but for me it is. Nurses have to deal with a lot of cranky patients. And sometimes, we get cranky back. But when I work with Alzheimer/Dementia patients, they forget. If they get mad at me for making them change out of their dirty shirt, five minutes later, we can go back to having a happy conversation. If they threw their food against the wall because that's what they felt like doing, I have a much easier time ignoring the behavior because I know that they can't control it. There's also no point in getting mad, because they won't remember it anyway.
Even with their forgetfulness, they can remember aspects. They can remember how you made them feel, even if they don't remember your name. And sometimes, knowing them well enough that I can make them smile is all I need to have a good day.