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Opportunities to Learn From Our Elders

Recently I was in the office of a colleague and we were having a time sensitive meeting on the topic of New Hire Orientation. I only had a short window of time to get my point across, as I had a commitment to be somewhere within the hour, and traffic was notoriously unpredictable. Just as we were getting into the meat of the conversation, a resident walked in. This gentleman was an extremely successful businessman in his past, one who had obviously been a part of many business meetings, just like the one he had just walked into. He sat himself down without any awareness of his interruption and began offering his insight without hesitation.

In spite of the ticking watch on my arm, and the shortening amount of time I had to get my point across with each declaration he was making, we sat patiently and quietly as we paid attention to what he had to say. You see, this gentleman was in his element. For years, he conducted business meetings behind a desk. The office was his comfort zone- this was the sacred ground where he made his mark in the world. So, rather than continue with our agenda, it was put aside out of respect for him. The fact that the words he was saying weren’t logical, was irrelevant, it was more important that he felt heard.

Looking back on the situation now, I’m grateful. I’m grateful that he reminded me what’s important. It’s important to be heard, it’s important to listen. It’s important to honor each other for who we are. It’s important to treat each other with respect. So, even though his interruption came at a terrible time- a time when I was already rushed- it was just enough to get me thinking about how we treat each other in this world. Dementia or no dementia, there’s always opportunities to learn from our elders.

-Susie Sarkisian, Director of Family Services

Kensington White Plains Director of Family Services Susie Sarkisian headshot.