One day, ex-nurse, Sara, came to meet me as if she was a lady on a mission, her heavy, white, knit sweater tail was rolled
up and gripped tightly in both hands. She couldn't remember one CNA from another, but Sara always seemed to pick me
when she wanted to talk.
I watched her scoot her feet in short, choppy steps as if she was all business as she came toward me.
"Hello, Sara," I greeted, smiling at her.
"Where have you been?" She snapped at me in her supervisor tone.
"I just got here," I explained, feeling like I was in trouble for something, but I didn't know what.
"Well, I have something to give you to take to my room." Sara unrolled her sweater and handed me a romote control.
Swell, I'm thinking. This is a facility full of televisions so it's going to take a while to figure
out who this remote belongs to.
Why did Sara trust me with her treasure? Simple. She couldn't find her room, and she was getting tired of
carrying the remote, but she had a feeling that she should keep it hid until she got it to her room. Should I have tried
to tell her that it was wrong to take someone else's property, or that there was no way that I was going to take someone's
remote to her room? No.
Before she had Alzheimer's disease, Sara had lived alone in her own home for some time. Her home was her domain
where the objects in that home were hers. No one in that home said, "Put that back. It's not yours." Now
she thought the care center she lived in was her home -- every room of it. So in her mind she should have been able
to pick up and carry with her whatever treasures were lying about. The feeling of displacement from familiar surroundings
was frightening enough so why should we make it worse by telling Sara she was doing the wrong thing. Can you imagine
you are living in a house that has suddenly grown in room size and not one of the rooms look familiar to you? But the
advantage in Sara's mind was that she had so many interesting treasures in this house that were new to her that she moved
to a different place in this large house.