A year ago I volunteered at a nursing home. My experience there was wonderful. I remember one particular lady who had recently lost her husband. She couldn't speak English very well and had Alzheimer's. Although it made me happy to see how happy she was to see me, it also made me sad because I knew how much she was hurting. She always followed me around and held my hand, it was so sweet.
Helping to feed the patients was also one of my jobs, which was difficult because those with Alzheimer's were determined to eat with their hands. Basically, my job was to comfort and talk to them, which made them feel loved, since often their families had abandoned them. I walked with them and they would talk about old times. Just having someone there to listen was enough.
Overall, my experience was happy and sad at the same time. Usually it was a great job, but sometimes I would feel like crying thinking how lonely some were and how much they were suffering. It has helped me want to make the best of my years with my parents, because they, too, may not be able to remember me if they had Alzheimer's. I have learned to be happy with what I have been blessed with and not to take things for granted. fl
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.