For most of us, communication is like breathing; we do it naturally, without thinking. But for people with aphasia, communication can be an insurmountable challenge. Yet, if you listen, if you really listen, you would be amazed at how clear a message can be.
Some time ago, we were moving residents on an assisted living floor to temporary quarters in the building so their apartments could be renovated. One of the residents was a 61 year old man who had lost the ability to speak as well as the use of one side of his body, as a result of a stroke. He was able, with great difficulty, to shuffle his wheelchair along. However, the only word he could say was “Hi”.
He positioned himself by his apartment, which was being prepared for construction, and kept trying to enter it. He was clearly agitated and kept saying “Hi, Hi” over and over again to everyone passing by.
One of our staff followed him into his apartment – an immaculate area with beautiful hardwood floors. Over the next hour, our staff member and this gentleman communicated, and by inflections, eye and hand movements and many “Hi’s,” we understood that he was extremely concerned that his floors would be damaged during construction. We assured him that his floors would be protected, and he smiled.
A week later, the renovations were complete. In spite of the many signs and warnings left for construction workers about protecting the floor, there were scratches and dirt everywhere. One Moving Solutions staff member got Housekeeping on the phone and asked, “Can you get up here, stat?” while other team members assured the gentleman that his floors would be fixed properly.
For the next three hours, the floors were swept, mopped, waxed and waxed again. By the end of the afternoon, they were beautiful. Our staff escorted the gentleman back to his apartment, where the floors shone and everything was in place.. He looked at them, smiled, gave a thumbs-up sign with his good hand, and said loudly and joyfully, “Hi.”
I am always proud of Moving Solutions staff, but sometimes they humble me.