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.