Friday, September 14, 2007

Honoring Those who Share Their Talents

Last evening I had the pleasure to share stories with John Wakeman, the Administrator of the Life Care Center of McMinnville, a skilled nursing center operated by Life Care Centers of America.

John and I talked about how managing a nursing home is a challenge, while being at the same time an honor and a privilege. I shared with John a beautiful story I had read earlier that day about one woman’s experience in the Alzheimer’s center where her mother lived: how her young daughter, experiencing the boredom common to kids visiting grandparents in a care setting, had wandered over to the piano and started playing the few songs she knew. Shortly she was joined by a group of residents who started singing along, over and over, the familiar songs the young girl was playing.

John shared how he played the guitar and enjoyed singing with his residents as well. He and I talked about how music seems to be such a universal, deeply rooted language, and how residents who can’t remember how to perform simple daily care functions could remember every word to a beloved song.

John also shared with me his upcoming weekend plan to hold a barbeque and picnic, and invited me to attend. John says he’ll be participating in all the activities – maybe even wearing a clown suit and sitting in the dunk tank.

As I was driving home I reflected that nursing homes are a lot like hospitals: places we all hope never to have to stay, but places we’re incredibly thankful exist if we need them. I also was thankful that people like John have chosen, as their profession, the challenging and often thankless job of running these centers, and daily put their hearts, souls and talent – from guitar playing and hamburger flipping to managing staff and dreaming up new ways to better serve the community – into their jobs.

Oh, and if you’re in the small, rural town of McMinnville, Oregon, nestled in the heart of Oregon’s great wine country, stop by the Life Care Center this Saturday afternoon for a little heartwarming fun.


  1. Thanks for the comment and the link, Sharon. The thing about helping the residents was that it was as much of a joy for us as for them. Once you get past the horror of Alzheimer's, you can see the people. They don't have a lot of joy in their lives -- mainly confusion and distress. To help them escape is a gift to yourself.

    You're doing good work here at your blog. I know it must help a lot of people.

  2. It's so wonderful to see more and more caregiver events and seminars popping up all over the country. Finally--the help we need and deserve!

    ~Carol D. O'Dell
    author of Mothering Mother
    avilable on Amazon and in most bookstores.