A truly healing yarn

Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:


A truly healing yarn

“No,” Diane said when I showed up at her door for our Thursday session. “I don’t want to talk to you. I’m too aggravated.” She turned her head and looked out the window for a moment.

“I’m surprised.” I replied. “We had such a nice conversation the last time. Plus, being aggravated is a perfect reason to talk to the psychologist.”

She looked back at me and sighed with exasperation, “Fine! Sit down. But I’m not going to be very good company.”

“You don’t have to be a star, baby, to be in my show.” I sang the refrain to the old song, mostly on tune.

She rolled her eyes. “They’re driving me crazy here,” she began, launching into an account of her recent fall on the way to the bathroom. “And now they won’t let me do anything by myself! They’re always yelling at me to wait for them, but then they don’t come when I call for them.”

It was the same tale I’d heard from two residents in my other facility that week.


Maya was a frail woman in her late 70s who navigated around her room with a walker. She spent most of her time alone, crocheting colorful booties that she carefully tied onto the walker frame, which served as a display for her wares.

“Five dollars each,” she told me, when I commented on her handiwork. Her earnings, I learned several sessions later, were going to her disabled son, who came to the nursing home every few weeks to collect the money she’d made for him. “He’s a good boy,” she assured me.

Maya had been placed on the dementia unit, though she didn’t have dementia. Residents wandered in and out of her room, touching her yarn and the slippers. She yelled at them to stop, leading to chart notes saying she was agitated and eventually to a move to a different floor.

Once among residents more similar to herself and assigned to a consistent, experienced aide who took her under her wing, Maya’s mood and behavior improved considerably and we discussed concluding our sessions. I arrived for our last meeting with a $5 bill in hand and left with a beautifully crocheted pair of booties I didn’t need.

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A truly healing yarn

yarn in apile

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