For some reason, unknown to myself, I thought of a resident I was lucky enough to meet at the nursing home. This wasn’t a very old man. He was maybe in his early 70’s. He had dementia and would often for no reason and with no warning just lay down on the floor and most often cry softly. The first time I saw this I immediately laid down next to him. Another CNA showed up out of nowhere with two pillows and a blanket and then backed off. Here we were. Two very large men laying down on the floor in the middle of the hallway in a very active nursing home… in the middle of the day.
Don’t ask me why I did this. This was in no training or seminar yet it was my immediate and most natural response. I’ve seen others do this. First responders like EMT’s, firefighters, police. I think there are several driving factors. For me it’s the eyes. Everything is raw and real in the eyes. Whether it be panic, fear, anger, love, frustration, encouragement or hopelessness, it can be seen in the eyes. Even dementia cannot take that away. And it is not the look in the other persons eyes that is important. It is the look in my eyes. They have to see that they are safe. They have to SEE that the words they are hearing have truth. They have to know that no matter where they are they can look you in the eye and know it’ll be alright. The only way I know to accomplish that is to meet them where they’re at.