A Different Perspective on Aging and Caring
I was invited to present a lecture to a class of graduate nurses who were studying the "Psychological Aspects of Aging." I started my lecture with the following case presentation:
"The patient is a white female who appears her reported age. She neither speaks nor comprehends the spoken word. Sometimes she babbles incoherently for hours on end. She is disoriented about person, place and time. She does, however, seem to recognize her own name. I have worked with her for the past six months, but she still doesn't recognize me.
"She shows complete disregard for her physical appearance and makes no effort whatsoever to assist in her own care. She must be fed, bathed and clothed by others. Because she is toothless, her food must be pureed; because she is incontinent of both urine and stool, she must be changed and bathed often. Her shirt is generally soiled from almost constant drooling. She does not walk. Her sleep pattern is erratic. Often, she awakens in the middle of the night, and her screaming awakens others.
"Most of the time she is very friendly and happy. However, several times a day she gets quite agitated without apparent cause. Then she screams loudly until someone comes to comfort her."
How would you feel about taking care of a patient as the one described?