The Power of Real Connection
February 4, 2022

Sammy joined Oakwood Creative Care’s Town Center Day Club as a teaching artist in 2020. Over the last 2 years,  Sammy has been dedicated to sparking moments of joy for seniors living with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other age-related challenges. Her empathy and compassion for creating meaningful relationships has opened new doors for communication and real connection, especially for one of Oakwood’s newest members.

The Power of Real Connection: Sammy’s Story

Recently, a new member joined Oakwood Creative Care. Based on first impressions, you would assume she is woefully shy; however, upon further understanding, you would learn that she suffers from Aphasia –  A speech disorder that affects her ability to communicate.

While she is fully aware of what is being said to her, she cannot always find the words to express what she is thinking. During a conversation I had with her over an approximate 30-minute period, she expressed to me how frustrating this disorder is for her and what a toll it has taken on her self-esteem.

In living with this condition, she has found people will either talk to her and not understand why she isn’t answering, or will choose not talk to her at all for fear of not knowing how to interact with her. 


My heart broke for her when I saw the pain behind her eyes, as she tried to express herself through stuttered and half-formed sentences with body language that screamed frustration and sadness. After our conversation,  I gave her a big hug and, with a warm gaze and a smile, she said to me, “Me too.”

I wanted to share this story to highlight the impact of patience, understanding, and equality when interacting with anyone who has a neurological disorder or memory impairment. They’re deserving of real connection and a listening ear, even when their words don’t come out.

Sammy is one of Oakwood Creative Care's Teaching Artists whose compassion has helped to foster meaningful relationships and real connection with members living with Alzheimer's, dementia, and other age-related challenges.


We're a nonprofit organization based in Mesa, Arizona with three senior day club locations (and a fourth on the way) which serve older adults with Alzheimer's, dementia, Parkinson's, and various other physical or cognitive challenges. Life does not end with a diagnosis. Our members continue to learn new skills, enjoy new discoveries, make friends, laugh, and live a joy-filled life. Our team of dementia experts lead support groups, events, classes, and private sessions with caregivers and families, guiding them on the best methods to care for their loved ones while also caring for themselves.

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