No one could remember what they ordered and the waitress was getting impatient

They were five for lunch, four elderly ladies with significant memory loss and their caregiver. The caregiver read the menu and ordering went just fine. Chicken salad, BLT sandwich with fries a cheeseburger, all the usual lunch at the diner orders. The problem came when the waitress returned with the order and said “Who ordered the BLT with fries,” and no one remembered.

At first there was an awkward moment while the group was feeling some pressure from the waitress to claim their meals. Then the caregiver started to giggle and pretty soon all the ladies were giggling and then laughing out loud. A moment that could have been difficult, hurtful and embarrassing was not only averted, but turned into a comfortable bonding moment for the group. Even the ladies who did not realize what the “joke” was, could join in the laughter of the group at the table.

The significant person in this scenario was the thoughtful and aware caregiver. The giggle was the cue to the ladies that, we aren’t going to take this too seriously. The giggle said to the ladies “No harm done, if this is the worst thing that happens today, what a great day.” And all the ladies were looking to the caregiver for many cues that day in the diner. Cues can come in the form of smiling while you engage in pleasant table conversation. Cues can be related to dining and the right utensils to use and where to put your napkin. But the cue the elder with memory loss needs the most, is how to react when something goes wrong.

Laughter is said to be a great “self-care tool” for caregivers

The role of caregiver is so difficult that a caregiver with a great sense of humor will be less stressed by the little things. Laughter can fight off the effects of stress and create a more positive attitude towards life.  As an unknown author once said:

“To understand a man you should walk a mile in his shoes. If what he says still bothers you that’s ok because you’ll be a mile away from him and you’ll have his shoes.”

Virginia Garberding, R.N.

Director of Education, The Wealshire, Lincolnshire, Illinois

Author: Please Get To Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance


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