I’ve recently finished reading the book Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer’s by Lauren Kessler and found it an interesting exploration of professional caregiving for Alzheimer’s patients. After feeling guilty about her own mother’s care and death from Alzheimer’s, Lauren Kessler decided to go work as a resident assistant as penance to gain a better perspective of the disease and its victims. She relates all the dirty details of the backbreaking job and the bizarre tendencies of the care facility residents.
I know how hard the job of a resident assistant is after watching them care for my own mother, but I always thought their official job title was CNA or certified nursing assistant. This book shined more light on the difficulties of their duties and working conditions, making me admire them even more. It takes a special person to continue caring for Alzheimer’s patients as a long-term career, and many times I marveled at their compassion, tenderness and patience, knowing I couldn’t do the same job nearly as well for any length of time.
I see my mother reflected in some of the Alzheimer’s patients described in this book, along with strange behavior I also witnessed in many of the other Alzheimer’s residents my mother lived with at her nursing home. I like the way this book shows Alzheimer’s patients are still people with feelings and the ability to relate in some way, if only momentarily, to the real world. This belief is expressed most poignantly through one Alzheimer’s patient named Rose, one of the most deeply demented residents who surprisingly turns out to still be an excellent dancer responding to music.