Volunteer Spotlight: Joan Brand
“The patients have great stories to tell!” That’s according to Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care in Atlanta Volunteer Joan Brand of Tucker, Georgia. While she’s taking a hiatus from visiting patients as a companion and is currently volunteering in the Crossroads office copying and collating consent and admissions packets, Joan said, “I would love to go back,” when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Joan has retired several times. First from AT&T where she worked for 30 years and then from a concierge position she held for 11 years at an assisted living community. As a volunteer “I wanted to stay in the realm of working with patients with Alzheimer’s” Disease, she said. “It’s what I enjoy the most because it’s easier for me to go to where they are.” Joan likes giving patients the opportunity to talk about their spouses or children or any topic really, even if memories lack truth and might even bother family members in the know. “It doesn’t bother me,” Joan said.
Joan reminisced about one patient who “talked for two hours about his job.” These were memories from the 1940s and early 1950s. He explained how he would take his lunch, ride the bus and even how he dressed. “It was a normal conversation even though it wasn’t real.”
When are you cutting my grass?
Another patient liked to cut grass and work on cars. Joan would ask him, “When are you coming over to cut my grass?” He would answer like he really was planning to mow her lawn. The patient “thoroughly enjoyed our conversation,” Joan said.
Another patient asked, “Where’s my husband?” Even though the spouse was deceased, Joan answered “at work” or “at the store.” She calls these her “little white lies.” Joan is happy to provide an environment “that satisfies” patients for a few brief moments. “I’ll sing, talk, read or just hold their hand.”
Joan will even go to the library when inspired like she did for a patient who loved horses even though she had never owned one. Joan went to the library’s children’s section and checked out a picture book on horses to look at and read with the patient, much to her delight.
Joan has also volunteered for more than five years at a local food bank. “I’m not a morning person,” Joan shared. “Some mornings when I wake up, I don’t really feel like getting up. But volunteering keeps me active. It gets me up and going.” And she credits her “working” relationship with Crossroads in Atlanta Volunteer Manager Laura Haigler. “We’re on the same wavelength.”
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