Low Maintenance

It’s been a year since one of our residents died. She’s not the first and definitely won’t be the last. Every single one of my clients has taught me something special but it’s my brief encounter with this individual that drove home the importance of paying attention to “everyone.” Sometimes we become so focused on “putting out fire” that we forget about those who are “low maintenance.”

Just because they are always sitting there quietly doesn’t mean they ought to be the last ones to be served every time. Just because they never complain doesn’t mean they aren’t hurting.

I wish I had been a better advocate, even though it wouldn’t have changed the fact that her time on earth was up. I did try to fight harder since her death. I hope it’s made her proud to realize that it’s kept history from repeating, at least for a while.

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About C

If you consider volunteering at a luncheon for older adults as my first exposure to the field, I have been in geropsychology for at least twenty years. As family, friend, volunteer, trainee, and professional, I have found myself in adult day care centers, senior centers, senior living facilities, nursing homes, medical and psychiatric wards, hospice, and personal homes of older adults. Wherever I go, be it an orphanage, a museum, a prison, an airport, or a random corner in the neighborhood, issues related to aging and mental health often come to mind. I used to think that I could make a difference only if I became a top-notch researcher, educator, or clinician. As I continue to follow this meandering path, it dawns on me that as a nobody in the field, I can still add my light to the sum of light by sharing what I know. Over the years, I have "converted" a few very dedicated individuals to focus on aging-related work within their respective disciplines and encouraged a handful more to stay in this field despite its winding course. I believe by bringing aging and mental health issues to the foreground, we will amass a stronger force to promote advocacy, research, and quality care.
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2 Responses to Low Maintenance

  1. I agree, C, that the “quiet ones” can often be surprising. I’ve more than once had someone referred to me for psychological services that I’d passed by a million times in the hall and discovered upon talking to them that they were bright, interesting, and knew everything going on around them but hadn’t let on.

  2. C says:

    Dr. E, I agree. Some of them would have been excellent Secret Service Agents 🙂

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