Someone asked me the other day, "What difference does it make whether I take my 87 year old aunt to the tea-room on one Tuesday and to the cafe the next Tuesday? She doesn't remember anything! I might just as well take her to the same place every week, or even not take her out at all!"
My answer to this question - or rhetorical question really - is that: She Has A Good Time While It's Happening ! So what, if she doesn't remember? Someday we're all going to be dead and then none of us will 'remember anything' - so why not just skip our whole lives?
Were you planning on doing something fun over the weekend? Well, just skip it because someday you're not going to remember it anyway.
What is this big emphasis on remembering? I'll bet none of us remembers three-quarters of our lives anyway - all those moments getting in and out of the car, walking up or down the stairs, commuting, taking a shower, etc - do we remember all of those moments?
This is so important to remember when working with the elderly. It doesn't 'not matter.' Just leaving someone to sit day after day in the same room is not going to create the quality of experience that taking them out for a change of scene once in a while - even though it is something of a drag for you - will do for them. No, they won't remember, but they may just have a nice feeling inside for a half an hour or so. Is that too little to count?
My experience is that they 'do' remember - while they're there. When I take my aunt to the downtown tea-room, she remembers the fun times she had meeting 'the girls' from the office there on Wednesdays - it kind of broke up the work-week for them, gave them something to look forward to, and she recounts different reminiscences of her friends. She comments on the fashions the office girls today are wearing. She analyzes their facial expressions, their makeup and hairstyles. She makes witty remarks and we both laugh. Then she goes back to her room at the old-age home.
The next week we go to the cafe out on the avenue and she admires the trees, notices the birds and flowers when we find a nice table outdoors. She enjoys seeing the mothers with their babies in strollers who are also meeting at the cafe. She laughs at the teenagers at the next table, awkward and gawky, looking and sounding like teenagers always have done, when they are acting and feeling so grown up, drinking coffee after school at the cafe. It's an entirely different experience from the tea-room, and from the old-age home too.
These experiences lend some texture to her days. She has plenty of peace and quiet and vistas of nature at the home. It's a good place, a nice place full of good, nice people. But sometimes my aunt just wants to remember that once she had a life, wore high fashion, was a mother with a baby in a stroller, was a teenager stopping for a treat with friends after school. Even though she forgets again very soon, at least she could remember for a little while.