Dr. Eleanor Barbera

At a conference last week, I remarked to my audience of recreation therapists, “None of us went into this field for the money — we did it for the juice.” And by “the juice,” I mean the good feeling we get from helping seniors and the nice things they say to us in return.

This is why your employees stay, despite everything else.

To get us in the spirit of gratitude for Thanksgiving, I’ve included a sample of comments made by residents to their psychologists. (I solicited material from my colleagues in my favorite shrinky organization, Psychologists in Long-Term Care. I actually heard some of them at work myself, but I’m not gonna tell you which ones.)

•  “Without you, I’m like a ship without a rudder.”

•  “Girl, I am so happy to see you. I love your smiling face. You help me so much when you come. I don’t feel so crazy.”

•  “Thank you for listening to me & not giving up on me.” (Written on a “Wow!” card.)

•  “I know you understand. I’m not crazy, but sometimes I feel like I am. My family doesn’t get it and the girls here don’t have time to talk to me.” (LTC Alzheimer’s resident with pain issues.)

•  “You help me to look at my life here in a way that my family, friends, and nursing staff can’t.”

•  “You don’t know how much it helps to have someone come in and listen and talk to me! I’ve just felt lost. I know I forget things, but since you’ve been coming, it seems like I’m less befuddled!” (LTC resident with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.)

•  “You are the constant in my ever-changing universe here.” (Among other changes, the resident has switched primary medical doctors four times and has had numerous aides ask to be reassigned in the two years she’s been at the facility.)

•  “I was just thinking about you! Reading that passage really helped calm me down. Thank you!”

•  “I can’t believe I’m laughing about all this. I never realized how depressed and afraid I was before we talked about it. The relaxation thing does really help. I’m not great at it, but I’ve been doing it just like you said.” (LTC resident with mild cognitive impairment and recent amputation.)

•  “I love when you come to see me. After we talk, I always feel like I have energy and smile more!”(LTC resident with new diagnosis of terminal cancer and mild cognitive impairment.)

•  “Thank you for coming to see me, honey. It makes me feel less out of control each time you come.” (Home patient with multiple sclerosis.)

•  “Hey, thanks for coming. I really appreciate it.” (At the end of each session.) 

•  “Now, when will you be back?”

•  “God bless you, Bubeleh.”

Feel free to leave your “kind words from residents” in the Comments section below. Give us some juice!

Eleanor Feldman Barbera, PhD, author of The Savvy Resident’s Guide, is a 2014 Award of Excellence winner in the Blog Content category of the APEX Awards for Publication Excellence program. She also is the Gold Medalist in the Blog-How To/Tips/Service category of the 2014 American Society of Business Publication Editors Midwest Regional competition. A speaker and consultant with nearly 20 years of experience as a psychologist in long-term care, she maintains her own award-winning website at MyBetterNursingHome.com.