More Than A Gesture
By: Michelle Remold
If there is one thing that Alzheimer’s has taught me, it is to watch for gestures of affection or appreciation and to cherish them. These gestures can be verbal or nonverbal and can take some time to recognize.
I know it took me a while to be able to identify these gestures. When I first started visiting my grandpa in the nursing home, I didn’t understand why so many of the people wanted to hold or shake my hand. Honestly, I wasn’t all to found of it either.
After spending time interacting with individuals who have Alzheimer’s, I have learned to identify the gestures and to appreciate them. I have had people smile at me and grab my hand, happy to see us visiting. I have had people come and play with my hair, I’m guessing they liked my red hair. I could go on with stories.
I have learned that each of these things from a smile to a hug to a hand shake to a pat on the head or a twinkle in their eyes all have a meaning. I have had people apologize for such gestures or say ‘well that was awkward.’ I really don’t see it that way anymore. I take every one of these things as a compliment and often times they brighten my day greatly.
I think these things come with time. I like to think that these gestures, both verbal and nonverbal, have meaning beyond what the person is able to express. Alzheimer’s as taught me about more than just compassion, it has helped me to watch people’s verbal and nonverbal cues to better understand what is being communicated.
Michelle graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with her Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology: Social Sciences and a minor in Family Studies. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Aging Studies and Nursing Home Administration from Minnesota State University Mankato.