This is a story of kindness between two roommates at one of the nursing homes I have worked at. I have seen roommates look out for each other, many times over the years, but this particular time things were a bit out of the ordinary.
The two residents in this story both had mid-stage dementia. They did not always remember that they could not get up and walk by themselves. Sometimes one of them would start to get up without assistance and we had to remind them to get help if they wanted to go somewhere.
On this particular night, we were about to find a surprising situation in their bedroom. It was midnight and we were making our rounds, peeking into each room, to make sure that the residents were safe, and still in their beds. As we made our way from room to room, we saw that the residents were sleeping peacefully.
But when we got to the room of these two ladies, Dottie and Sarah, and we did not find them both safe in their beds. Dottie was in bed, but Sarah’s bed was empty. At first we did not know where Sarah was, and we felt a bit panicked. We looked in the bathroom and did not find her. It was not likely that she had gotten very far unassisted.
Sarah’s bed was nearest to the door and Dottie’s bed was on the far side of the room. I walked past Sarah’s bed, towards Dottie. I wanted to ask her if she had seen Sarah get out of her bed. I saw a pile of blankets all over the floor, between the two beds. Then I found a surprise in the middle of all those blankets!
There was Sarah, on the floor in between the two beds, all tangled up in a pile full of blankets. Her feet were tangled in one of the blankets and it was clear that she had tripped in the blankets somehow. I called the my coworker over and let her know that I found Sarah on the floor.
We checked her to make sure she was not injured. As it turns out, we were lucky and she was intact. This was very lucky, because many times these falls result in injury.Then we asked her what happened and how she ended up on the floor.
Sarah, still holding one of the blankets in her hands, began reaching the blanket towards me. “Cover her, she is cold!”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “Were you trying to cover your roommate with the your own blankets?”
“Yes, she is cold. Please cover her!” she was very insistent. “She was telling me she was cold and I wanted to bring her my blankets and cover her.”
My coworker and I were astounded. Here is this very old woman with dementia, who could not even walk by herself. She had to get help with every daily living task throughout her day. She could not put herself to bed, or even cover herself with the blankets.
But when her roommate said she was cold, her brain could only focus on the fact that someone else needed help. She had such compassion for her roommate that she had somehow gotten herself out of her bed, dragging all of her blankets with her.
They had tangled about her feet, as she was carrying them over to Dottie’s bed. Even from the floor, she had still been trying to put the blankets on her roommate.
We got her up from the floor, and assisted her back to bed. I tucked her in and kissed her on the head goodnight. At that point, she looked at me and said, “Well?”
“Well what, Sarah?” I said. To which she replied…
“Well, are you going to cover her?”
You can read more of Annie’s writings at GentleKindness’s Blog.
Also by the same author on Kindness Blog:
- Richard and Molly, A True Story From the Assisted Living Facility
- Kindness Connection Brings Out Our Humanity
- One ALS Patient’s Ability to Share His Kindness With Others
- Being Mindful and Kind to Others, While Being Assertive