A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the Dementia Ward: Memoir of a Male CNA
By Charles Schoenfeld, self-published in 2011, ISBN 1463770103 www.charlesschoenfeld.com
“Charles Schoenfeld provides a remarkably perceptive and thoughtful view of life in a long term care community when working with people living with various types of dementia. He uses a great combination of self-deprecation, humor, insight, reflection, and true affection to share stories and thoughts about what it means to live with a dementing illness, what it means to try to provide care and support to the person living with dementia, and what is possible when we look beyond what seems to be to better understand what might be. From simple walks off the unit, to conversations and friendships that are confabulated, Charles shares through his writing ways in which he has met unmet needs and opened doors for moments of beauty and life. He shares as well times when he has faltered in his efforts to be all that people with dementia need, and has never given, returning to the effort each day. For the men in his northern Wisconsin rural community, he used his remembered love of ‘the annual deer hunt’ experience to offer an opportunity to awaken for them memories of fellowship, success, and value. He allows the reader to consider what is possible as we offer practical support when we always see the person first and know they are still present in some way, until the last breath is drawn.
His personal account of his time from retiring from his job of driving for UPS and training to become a CNA to becoming a transportation and mealtime supporter and then an activity assistant is both funny and honest. He is a natural story teller, who weaves facts and truths among emotional realities, spiritual awakenings, and heartfelt moments of joy and sadness. As one of the only older male CNAs, among many younger females, with a strong aversion to ‘intimate care’ routines, BUT a real love of care and connections with elders and disabled individuals, Charles provides a very helpful view into life as a hands on care provider who uses a REAL person centered care approach in interactions and interventions. He is surely a person who sees beyond dementia into the spirit and soul of those in his care.
I highly recommend this book as both a text for potential care providers to help move from ‘task based’ approaches to ‘relationship based’ support and programming and anyone looking for a ‘good read’ with a bit of humor from the mid-west. I also recommend it for family members who are considering placement or who may need to seek additional support for the person they are trying to love through this journey.
He has a GIFT for sharing in ways that ring true and speak clearly! It is a good thing that his wife, Maggie, pushed the pen into his hand!”
Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA
Dementia Care & Training Specialist
Owner/Trainer, Positive Approach, LLC