Tranquility and Occupation
April 24, 2017
Thomas Jefferson once said “It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness.” I once had a memory care resident who had worked as a grief counselor. She carried her old yellowing business card with her name and title in her pocket every day. Whenever she saw me at Emerald Crest, she would produce her card. With a shy smile, she would show me the card, often several times a day. Clearly her previous occupation gave her happiness and filled her with a sense of purpose and identity. She was a gentle, quiet woman and no doubt the work suited her. When our work is satisfying and we make good use of our strengths and temperament, our occupation contributes to our overall happiness and contentment. One of the hardest things to confront when our health begins to limit us, is a loss of occupation and sometimes with that loss, a sense of purpose.
Memory Care and Occupational Therapy
Then our talented, dedicated Occupational Therapy staff at Emerald Crest steps in! I’ve learned more about cognitive health and dementia from our OT team at Emerald Crest, than from any class or book I’ve read on memory loss. Our OT staff has developed a schedule for each house, filled with pleasant activities to keep residents occupied. Our occupational therapists are skilled observers of behavior and have a keen sense of the abilities and interests of our residents during times of transition and change.
Recently I was leading worship in one of the houses. During the middle of worship, one of the residents abruptly rose from the sofa and started to wander and look around. I noticed she appeared more fatigued than usual, her gait was slower. She looked not only tired but bored as well. She was looking for something to do other than sing in our group. She came back and stood next to me, watching me while I led worship, still looking rather bored and tired. Suddenly she caught a glimpse of a staff member in the dining room folding the daily laundry; napkins, dishtowels, washcloths… all were piled haphazardly on the dining room table. This resident straightened up from her stooped posture, and in a with eyes focused, she purposefully marched over to the tables and started folding laundry. I was amazed at the shift in her energy. She appeared relaxed and focused as she folded.
Later I shared this observation with our staff occupational therapist at Burnsville, Sarah Hartmann, OTR/L who concurred that this resident had been a homemaker much of her life. Sarah had noticed early on the resident’s interest of this task and had asked staff to encourage this resident’s participation. The small orderly task of folding laundry brought our resident’s mind and attention focus and peace; the familiarity of folding literally gave her strength and purpose if just for a few minutes. It was very worthwhile to see.
Emerald Crest Memory Care
At Emerald Crest, the needs of the whole resident are addressed, including spiritual care support. And if spiritual care doesn’t fit what the resident needs in that moment, folding warm clean laundry might be just as important and grounding as a hymn or prayer! We would have never known this about our restless resident if not for a wise and observant OT who enabled her to participate in an important memory and ritual of her own, taking care of her home and family. It is a blessing and joy to see our residents find “tranquility in occupation.”
Rev. Lette Gamble
At Emerald Crest, we offer a deep knowledge of memory care in a specialized assisted living setting for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related conditions. We encourage you to contact us directly with any questions or request a tour. For tours and general information, please contact Christine Drasher at 952-908-2215.
For questions about our spiritual care program, or if you would like spiritual care and support for you or your loved one, contact Rev. Lette Gamble at 612-554-6379 or firstname.lastname@example.org.