As a psychologist, I must fall in love with all of my patients in order to work with them.
This morning, I had my initial interview with a 90-year old woman who was referred due to depression. I asked my typical psychological assessment questions (“Can you tell me what day it is? Have you had any thoughts of ending your own life?”), while observing the obvious care she’d taken with her grooming.
“I love that you’re wearing red nail polish! And the flower in your hair is fabulous.”
“Thanks.” She beamed, and popped the red flower out of her hair, her shiny nails flashing as she did so. “You see? I can’t reach in the back like I used to, so I just smooth down my hair and stick this on.”
“It looks great,” I told her, charmed.
I’m a sucker for old ladies with bold nail polish.
This afternoon, in conversation with a 96-year old woman I’ve been seeing for a while, I happened to ask her if she could sing me a song.
“Amazing Grace,” I suggested.
“I can’t sing no more.”
“I can’t sing either. You’re just out of practice. I’ll bet your ‘out of practice’ is better than my best efforts.”
“Well…” She ran her arthritic fingers along one of the seven strands of colorful beads she wore around her neck. Her straw cap was on backwards, at a jaunty angle, and the gold accents on her black socks picked up the trim in her dress. She rested her head in her hand, her elbow on the armrest of the wheelchair.
“Ama-zing Grace…” Her voice was low and thin, but unmistakably expert in her working of the melody. Her rendition added a level of passion I suspect could only come from a woman of her years.
I listened, transfixed, and holding back tears. My love for her was renewed.
6 thoughts on “I Fell in Love Again Today — Twice”
Eleanor, your post touched me. You have a gift, “falling in love with your patients,” it is the relationship that heals.
Thanks, Sue! You have a gift too, I know. I’m glad I get to talk to you about these ideas.
I fall in love with “my people”, too!
I work in assisted living serving in the dining room. In the past 8 years I’ve fallen in love with so-o-o many! I become very involved with them–maybe too much?!–they are like family to me.
I haven’t had time to read all of your past posts but I intend to keep up with future ones.
Thanks for authoring such a positive blog on eldercare!
Welcome to my blog, Barbara. I appreciate your comment and look forward to hearing more from you. Different venues, different jobs, same philosophy. I’m glad we can meet on the Internet.
I spent 9 months working in the mental health department of a Veterans Home while obtaining my Masters in Counseling. It was the most rewarding professional experience of my life, and I completely identify with your sentiments about falling in love with your patients. Those I worked with during that time made a life-long impression on me personally and professionally. Those experiences continue to inform my current work as a counselor to family caregivers of the elderly.
I agree, Missy, that working with the elderly can have a profound impact both personally and professionally. I’ve made major life decisions based on what I’ve learned working with them and feel fortunate to have such good teachers.