Hey guys, I’m on Vox!

The care of Alzheimer’s patients is a subject I’ve been passionate about for a long time, and as many of you know, my experience in nursing homes serves as the direct inspiration behind my upcoming novel, Pale Highway.  The inner world of a nursing home is a place I’ve wanted to open up to people ever since I first stepped foot in one, and my four years of working with Alzheimer’s patients changed my life in a way I never could have imagined. The people I took care of became some of the best friends I’ve ever had, and my time working with them taught me so much about the world, human beings, and friendship.

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That’s why I wrote this article, published on the front page of Vox.com this morning.  This is an in-depth personal look at my experience in the world of nursing homes, healthcare and dementia, and how it changed me.  Thank you for giving it a read.

Vox.com: I thought I could fix my Alzheimer’s patients. I learned to help them instead.

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26 thoughts on “I’m on Vox!

  1. Nicholas, a thought-provoking post. I admire you for your insightful ability to write about caring for dementia patients. Caring goes far beyond everyday necessities, and captures the essence of the person. You’ve done that beautifully. Thank you! Chryssa (aka Christine)

  2. Big congrats on the front page story. Bless you for realizing you can’t fix patients but learned to helpe them which is far more practical given the limitations of a broken healthcare system. Your article underscores your passion and compassion and that’s a terrific thing. Well done!

      • Well, I am just glad you wrote the article and got it published! I have had doubts about my ability to do right by my Dad and your post showed me how in a way that worked for me. Thanks again!!!

  3. I loved your post and I love the way that you care for others. This story is all too true. I went to school to become a certified nursing assistant years ago, and I felt the same way you did on my first day of clinicals. I decided after receiving my certificate that this wasn’t the job for me. I felt helpless and inadequate in my abilities, and I didn’t feel like I could really do anything that would make a difference. Taking care of patients in any type of setting is not for the faint of heart. Love is the best medicine of all and when we realize this, we can help people in a way that changes their lives forever.

    • This statement is so true: “Love is the best medicine of all and when we realize this, we can help people in a way that changes their lives forever.”

      Thank you for commenting, and thank you even more for being a caregiver to those in need. You’re right, it isn’t a job for the faint of heart, but for those who give it their all, it’s definitely one of the most rewarding jobs out there.

  4. The part about the lady in her 90s — helpless and afraid, calling for her mother like a little girl… Oh, that’s heartbreaking. I can feel myself tearing up just thinking about it again.

    Although I’ve never seen Alzheimer’s at close hand, someone very close to my wife and I suffered a massive stroke and then died some time later. Those months were so hard to bear. The body was still there, but it was like an empty vessel from which the entire personality had been poured.

    Only very, very occasionally, there would be something — the way one of us touched our ear, a word one of us used — that would prompt recognition, and just for a second the person we loved would pass briefly across the features of the face… and then was gone again.

    Your article was excellent — one of the very best things I’ve read in any blog . It made me think carefully about my own experiences and reassess them. Perhaps we were all so focused on what we were unable to do, we didn’t fully appreciate that simply our loving presence in the room made a profound difference, whether or not we were recognized.

    I think anyone who works as a caregiver deserves the greatest respect. In a sane world, it would be nurses, doctors and teachers who were celebrated and admired rather than egomaniacal property tycoons and puerile, egg-throwing Canadian pop stars.

    • Thank you for this, Bun.

      Yes, being there for someone who has suffered such a traumatic stroke is very similar to being there for a loved one with Alzheimer’s: the contrast between then/now, declining abilities, aphasia, the challenge of connecting when that person suddenly acts so differently from how they did before.

      From what you describe, I think that just the loving presence of both you and your wife – being there, being present for this person – was probably the most important thing of all, and probably meant so much more to the person you speak of than he/she could’ve expressed. When human beings enter such a state, it’s always love that they crave the most; it sounds as if you both were there for him/her to the best of your ability, and that sort of love is what makes all of the difference in the world.

  5. Thank you for this Nicholas. When my Alzheimer’s progresses and my dementia becomes more of me that I am now, I hope for someone like you to be there. You have so much to teach the world about how to be with someone living with dementia please don’t stop. 🙂

    • Gill, thank you so much for this. From your blog, you seem like an absolutely amazing person with many brilliant insights about the world, Alzheimer’s, and life.

      I appreciate the kind words, and I fully intend to continue writing about this topic, and getting the message out there; after these past years, it’s become one of the things that I’m most passionate about, and I hope I can do my small part to spread more awareness.

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