Wally wrote “Dave more of a question than a thought, but with the different levels of loss you describe, what spiritual resources do you provide or what ones do your elders find helpful. The loss of meaning, purpose and hope are biggies that I see.”
Thank you for the question. Wally I really see myself as a learner, beginning anew each time a visit with residents, especially with memory care residents. I offer a range of resources for spiritual care. I keep trying to expand this toolbox. I sing, I color, I hold hands, look people in the eye, I smile, I laugh when we are able to share a joke-often it is a joke on me (dropping something, or getting tangled in a microphone cord…) The other day I danced with some of the women. Also, I have learned from a consultant how to prepare devotion time and worship in a way that invites responses from residents and gives then a positive, successful experience-instead of bewilderment or frustration. On the printed devo/worhip sheet, I use large font, numbers, shapes, and colors to guide the residents through the simple liturgy. I include pictures that we talk about. I rely on the deeply familiar, but offer a variety of experiences with the aim that one of them will be a positive connection for the resident. I talk in an inviting way with them instead of preaching at them. I don’t expect a resident to “get something” out of everything I do. This is often too linear and too dependent on cognitive skills they no longer have. My aim to offering a smorgasbord of opportunities for spiritual connection. When one happens, I try to be there in that experience with the resident so it is positive and they feel they have had a been successful. Example, one day as we started devotion time we were looking at a picture of an angle. The resident said she saw a bunny rabbit. I said yes, I can see one there too. “Did you ever have rabbits” “Yes, we raised them for food.” “That sounds important.” “Yes we didn’t go hungry.” In my view we had a successful interaction. Her experience was validated affirmed, listened to, in a small way. She contributed and in the prayers we thanked God for food and all the ways we like rabbits.