I questioned my decision to take my son Mark into the Alzheimer’s unit on Saturday to deliver flowers donated from a wedding. I vividly remember my first experience visiting one of these centers specific to those suffering from this disease when I was his age. The fear I felt when I was younger came from a place of not understanding what was happening to these patients and why they were acting the way they were. Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia. Symptoms can include repetitive questions, aggression, confusion, delusions and more.
I know that I want to raise him to be aware of the suffering around him so he can have a positive impact on those around him, so we went for it. We talked beforehand about what he should expect and I explained to him in terms his young mind could understand what this disease was. When we left and he said “That was sad but I’m glad we were able to make them smile”…I knew we were in the clear.
Seeing people who have lost their memory and their ability to function normally is heartbreaking. Without realizing, we take for granted so many basic things on a daily basis. Having a place of our own to live, being able to cook for ourselves or get out of bed, having a pet or family living with us. These are things these people live without every single day.
As a child I used to go into nursing homes and read to the patients and I remember feeling like I was impacting their lives in a positive way. It would always baffle people why reading to someone was important, but its these smaller acts of kindness that are often overlooked that seem to have the biggest impact. Some of these people have family and regular visitors, and some of them do not. However, the one thing I am positive of is that having someone visit them shows them that they do matter. Putting myself in their place and considering how daunting it must feel to not be able to get out of bed or get things without assistance, whether I had visitors or not would not matter. It gave me a feeling of dread to know that in those downtimes I’d be myself confused and unable to do for myself as I previously was able to.
These men and woman were SO unbelievably grateful for something as simple as a bouquet of flowers and someone to chat with. Some of them were in the end stages of their disease and were on hospice, some of them were in the beginning stages and adjusting to this new norm. I met a lady in the end stages of this disease who used to arrange flowers for the people in the nursing home, and now found herself being the recipient of flowers from a stranger.
The staff at Bayleigh Chase in Easton, MD are an incredible group of people. I witnessed a manager stop to help a gentleman who was unable to lift his feet up so his wheelchair could be moved. I saw nurses and nursing assistants list off names of patients that were the most in need as if they were their best friend. Not once did I see them lose patience when asked the same question five times. They answered each one with kindness, thought and the patience of a saint. This turned out to be my favorite delivery we have done so far and I can’t wait to revisit them soon.
These flowers were donated through Sophie Felts Floral Design from a wedding that took place at the Morningside Inn in Frederick, MD. Click here to donate flowers from a wedding or event, or to volunteer with us.