Singing As We Roll Along
By Kay Heitsch • October 6, 2017
When I called the number, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I saw the ad in the phone book and it looked like something I would enjoy: "Non Medical In Home Care." The ad stated that I would be helping people, I assumed elderly, stay in their own homes. This sounded like the job for me. I love older people. I'd spent a lot of time volunteering in nursing homes. This ad said these people were well enough to still be at home. Well, that's what the ad said anyway.
I called the number and then went over for an interview. I was asked if I minded going to the hospital and sitting with a woman who was a patient there. Boy, this doesn't sound too bad. Was I ever in for a surprise!
My first client, Marian* was definitely not able to be home alone. In fact, when she left the hospital she went right over to the rehab center to learn to walk again after a hip replacement from a fall. Marian's physical therapist was from India. One day she looked at him, then she looked at me, and demanded, "Take me back to the United States!" The therapist and I both looked at each other and smiled.
From the rehab, Marian went to a memory care center. This was not what I had in mind when I answered the ad. But for some reason I was able to connect with Marian. I felt the Lord had brought us together.
Dealing with all of Marian's problems, and there were many, was not easy. Just keeping her calm was a huge ordeal. I didn't know what to do, so I would pray and ask the Lord to give me some ideas.
One of Marian's many problems was her repetitive words, phrases, or noises. After hearing the same thing over and over, I really started to pray for suggestions. One day I had the idea to sing. It wasn't long before Marian was singing with me. When we didn't sing, I had the idea to give her gum to chew. The chewing seemed to help with the repetitive sounds, too. After some time all of the repetitive sounds stopped.
It wasn't very long before other residents started to follow us when we walked and sang. It wasn't uncommon for visitors to walk along and join in singing, also. On one occasion, a few women were walking with their mothers. Some were also wheeling them in their wheelchairs. We were all in a line walking and singing. All of a sudden one of the girls who worked at the memory care unit came around the corner. Without missing a beat she said, "Well here come the holy rollers." We all started to laugh. We thought that was a cute name for us, as we were rolling our loved ones and singing hymns at the time.
I was with Marian for almost six years before she died. I have a lot of good memories of that time. Even though this sure wasn't the job I thought it would be, I knew it was the job the Lord had for me to do.
*Name has been changed.
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