Remember the show, 50 1st Dates with Drew Barrymore??? Well I had a simular experience last week with my new patient.
I recieved a 91 year old grandpa...with Alzheimers dementia. He had no family with him, and obviously was a poor historian. He was very pleasant and spoke a little English (Better than my little bit of Spanish). Every time I went into the room he would ask "Who are you?" in a fearful voice. Each time I calmly responded "I'm Ginger, your nurse." He would respond each time " I'm Mr. Jose." (not his real name). I would do what I needed and leave with a small light left on. About the 5th time this happened it started being funny. The aide went in with me to turn him. Now you have to know my aide...I'll call him Jay. Well Jay used to be an EMT which he thinks makes him ultimately qualified to tell the RN's what to do...or maybe it's because he is a man and is over 50 years old. Anyway, in his condensending voice (in front of the patient) he told me "YOU need to learn Spanish, why haven't you taken a Spanish course? You're a nurse." (the subtitle here is: you're a nurse I know you can afford it, don't you care that you can't talk to your patient's?). "Well Jay, I'd certainly love to take a class, but as you know the only time they teach it is at night....when I'm at work...and I can't take off work a whole semester to take a class." (unlike his family situation...we are a one income family!). My patient, Mr. Jose listened very carefully to what was being said....Jay told him in broken Spanish what we were going to do (give him a bath). Mr. Jose looked at Jay, looked at me....and shook his finger at Jay and said ....."YOU need to learn a little Spanish, SHE's ok!" Jay's jaw dropped to the floor, and I had to giggle, it was sooooo freaking funny. I actually think he meant to tell Jay he needed to learn a little manners!
Later when the doctor came in...Jose and I had another of our 50 1st Dates. "Who are you?", "I'm your nurse, Ginger".... The doc spoke fluent Spanish. She was talking to the patient and she started laughing, and patting his hand and saying, no no no...then another quick string of fast Spanish. I asked her what was so funny....She said she had asked him if he knew where he was and he had said "yes"....she said "well where are you at?" He responded "the funeral home"! No wonder he was so fearful everytime I went into the room...he thought he was dead!
Alzheimers has to be the saddest disease. I used to work with a nurse at the prison, her husband had Alzheimers, and he was in his early 50's. She eventually had to quit her nursing job to care for him full time. She had him in assisted living...but it still took her as a full-time caregiver to keep him safe.
I looked up some info on Alzheimers because my nursing mag's have printed articles about advances being made. A good resource is www.alz.org which explains about this disease, the progress being made and resources for caregivers.
Me, I wonder if Mr. Jose will be there on Monday still for our 50th 1st date?