I am often expected to give a scintillating talk on medical conditions that affect the population of our Assisted Living Community and define what can and can’t be done and what you can expect or not expect. This Month, I would love to talk about Books and Movies, certain books and movies of course, not just a general lump of all literature and film. I find that sometimes you can see things from a completely different perspective and that in the end, your own perspective may be altered in the process.
Just this week I had the opportunity to see James Keach’s documentary on the life and final tour of Glen Campbell, I’ll Be Me. You may or may not be aware that Glen Campbell has Alzheimer’s Disease and the journey that he and his family represent is sad and joyful at the same time. Glen Campbell can sing and he can play the guitar amazingly well and had up to the point of this filming in 2012, been on tour with his band comprised mostly of his longtime friends and his children. The perspective is not only that of Glen Campbell the man, as he travels on the road of realizing that he is not remembering things he once knew but of his wife and children and how they accept and support him and choose to spend this time even as they are losing him, so that they can provide him dignity and the enjoyment of his music and performing for as long as it was possible.
In the same way, the novel by Sara Gruen, Like Water For Elephants tells the story of Jacob Janowski, a 93 year old nursing home resident. What it feels like to be him – a man who had an interesting life full of adventure, who had a career and a wife and children, and who feels as if he is losing his spirit, his sense of self. This book is considered a historical romance novel, to me it was an insight into a man who feels that he has lost all of himself and is clearly not being seen by others in his nursing home as the man he was or might still be. I often recommend this book to others as I feel the perspective is important.
People are never just what you see (or think you see) before you, they are a giant tangle of adventures and experiences, tears and happiness’s that have shaped their lives and the lives of their families. Each and every individual has had a story and a life before they come to us for our help and care. We as healthcare providers have to stop ourselves and see that person; and in doing so we become so much more able to care and provide care. Books and movies like those above, not only raise awareness for the general public they are guides for the healthcare industry . . . Look at me, I am still here.
– MaryAnn Durso, Director of Nursing Services at The Kensington White Plains