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“After retiring from a 27 year job as a truck driver, I went to work at North Central Health Care (NCHC), providing care to residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
It had begun with regular visits to my mother. At 98, she was a resident at NCHC and I visited her regularly. For the average visitor, a dementia ward can take some getting used to. For whatever reason, I fit right in.
That led to Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) class, where I was the only male—and the only one without a cell phone in one hand and a Diet Mountain Dew in the other. I learned how to “toilet,” how to perform “personal cares.” How to cushion my fall before fainting…
Despite thirty days of training, nothing prepared me for the people I met, much less the situations I found myself in. The dynamics of daily life on a dementia ward, my encounters with co-workers, visiting family, and particularly the residents I helped, resulted in a train wreck of emotions that both broke and filled my heart. The stories are many.
Caregiving became an unexpected love affair that lead me down a path of self-discovery I hadn’t known I was traveling. A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the Dementia Ward – Memoir of a Male CNA is now required text in two colleges I’m aware of, and has led to an unexpected speaking career. From church basements to fifth floor boardrooms, people identify with and embrace the message and story of a common man.”
Charles Schoenfeld has been a guest speaker on Wisconsin Public Radio, Fox Cities Book Fest, at Alzheimer’s Association conferences, the Chicago Case Managers Society of America, and numerous caregiving and corporate events across the country.
A veteran and married father of four, Charles lives in Wausau, Wisconsin with his wife, Maggie, where he recently opened the Downtown Memory Café (www.fumcwausau.org/care) for people in the early stages of memory loss. This is his first book.