Do you ever feel like there is a hole in your heart and you can’t quite figure out how to fill it? There are many good things in your life like family, job, living situation and friends. However, you just don’t feel quite complete and you know that there has to be a little bit more out there to give your heart the food that it needs. That was me a little more than three years ago.
When you are suddenly faced with an unexpected life occurrence that throws your very being off kilter, you have to make adjustments mentally and emotionally that you never thought you would have to make. Even when my grandmother was diagnosed with dementia, we still got to enjoy her at home for quite a long period of time. Unfortunately, my mom and dad had to deal with her worsening condition as she lived with them. When it got to the point that she was hurting herself and potentially others, the decision everyone dreads had to be made and thankfully my aunt and my mom, together with the doctor, made the right choice to place her in a place where she could get the professional care she needed. That was when my life changed.
I remember my first visit like it was yesterday. I didn’t know what to expect, how I would react and most of all how she would react to me. As I entered the doors the place was nice, clean, smelled wonderful and the staff was friendly. So far so good. As I walked down the hall and into the dementia ward I was met with a myriad of faces. I remember distinctly the woman holding her dolls, the man and woman sitting side by side and the lady constantly crying out. There were faces that knew you were looking at them and faces that no matter how hard you looked and said hello there were only blank stares in return. Some were walking, some were in wheelchairs and others were confined to their bed. I knew there were some that had entered those walls and would never see outside again and my heart was sad.
My grandmother was one of the active ones and at this point still knew me. We were lucky, she was one of the ones that did not put up a fight and only asked occasionally when she would be able to go home. She settled pretty well. Visiting her I had the opportunity to speak with nurses about their experience in the community. That is where it all changed.
I learned that there were many not as lucky as my grandmother. Many who were alone and forgotten. Some that never got visitors or contact from the outside. Others that just needed a loving touch from someone other than the daily professional care that they were receiving. I knew that there was something that I had to do and realized that there had to be a difference that I could make. It was during this time that this program was born and the hole in my heart began to close.
Starting Monday and over the next week I will take you on that journey to where we are today and share the experiences that helped me nurture my soul and thousands of others. I will share with you some of the insights from the beginning and give you a view into the Bring Smiles world we all are now a part of. Until then, have a great weekend and remember to be the reason someone smiles!