I've read Leslie Curtin's story three times and it still makes me cry. Enjoy.
We had a man admitted status post CVA (after a stroke). He was never going to recover to the point where his wife could take him home since he was a two-person assist to do anything and couldn't really bear weight well. They were a lovely couple … had been married for 40-something years and clearly still adored each other.
Every winter at this facility we had the Snowflake Ball. The residents would dress in gowns and suits … hair done, makeup on, be escorted to the 'ballroom', listen to live music, have a special meal, and dance.
This man's wife came in a beautiful gown. She watched some of the other residents dancing and said, "I wish I could have just one more dance with my husband." The social worker and I were standing there with her. We just looked at each other and without really discussing it, stood the man up so he could 'dance' with his wife. She was crying, he was crying, we were crying. It was such a little thing for us to do but it made such a huge difference for them.
I think things like this happen every day in facilities around the country but no one hears about them because they aren't glamorous or exciting.
As I tell my staff on a regular basis: It's not about you … it's not about me. It's about the people we take care of every day.
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Dr. Barbera is an author and a licensed psychologist consulting in long-term care facilities in the New York City area. She frequently lectures on subjects related to psychology, aging, and nursing homes. Dr. Barbera is available for private consulting with organizations, institutions, and individuals around eldercare issues. Visit her personal blog at