This month’s Kind Regards letter received by the team at Carondelet Village is just one of several that were shared about Resident Assistant Andrea Boedigheimer and her instinctive kindness.
"You are just like family," my 96 year old mom said to Andrea again.
"Family" is the highest praise Mom has ever offered to anyone because she has been devoted to her family for her entire life, as we are to her. Fortunately, Mom now lives at Carondelet Village in the Arbor Memory Care, where someone from her family visits her daily. What a wonderful gift that Andrea Boedigheimer has been her Resident Assistant since the day Mom reluctantly moved in!
I have learned so much observing Andrea respond to every resident with deep respect, warm understanding, and genuine love. She manages to elicit laughter from grumpy elders with her sense of humor and dazzling wardrobe accessories. And because Andrea has been doing this work of caring for elders for several decades, she enters the world of her dementia residents with her conversations and service. They may not remember exactly what she said or even her name, but they remember that she made them feel listened to and appreciated just as they are.
As a leader amongst her co-workers, Andrea has been an outstanding model and trainer for new employees. During winter storms she has been willing to work extra shifts when others were unable to come to Carondelet Village. I have witnessed her sharing responsibility for the well-being and safety of all the residents in the memory care unit even if they are not specifically assigned to her care. In recent days, I have seen Andrea entice a resident up off the floor where she suddenly felt the need to sleep in front of another resident's door. I have seen her provide nourishing food for residents who may have slept through a typical meal time. I have seen her bring residents to the common area to sing, talk, laugh with each other when she knew that was just what they needed. I have seen her comfort and distract an angry resident without hesitation when others might back off. I have seen her administer medications to a resident who refuses it from all other staff members. Andrea's presence in the lives of these elders and all of their families is one of the greatest gifts we have been given.
"Family" is exactly what Andrea Boedigheimer has created amongst this group of people with memory loss. She has been the outstanding caregiver that everyone deserves during this sometimes difficult time of life's journey. Residents, families, volunteers, and employees are inspired to look out for each other because of Andrea's example.
Mom has lost much of her memory and wants to be the strong, independent, healthy woman that she was for more than 90 years. Yet she is absolutely correct when she feels relieved by Andrea's presence and repeatedly smiles and tells her, "You are just like family."