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Brenda Edens Shares Her Compassion and Understanding

Brenda Edens

While she was growing up, Brenda Edens often helped take care of her younger sister, who was autistic. That experience helped Brenda gain a sense of compassion and understanding for people who are "different." Today, as a Certified Nursing Assistant, she shares that compassion and understanding with her patients at The Gardens, a residential care facility in Yuba City for people with Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia.

"I started out in the medical field 18 years ago, working at a nursing home in Folsom," she recalls. "At first, it was 'just a job,' but I discovered I had a knack for working with Alzheimer's patients. It was what I was meant to do."

A member of The Gardens staff for four years, Brenda works the evening shift from 2:30 to 11 p.m., helping patients with their daily living tasks and providing their medications. Another important part of her job is to help patients and their families cope with any problems that arise and to give her patients as normal a life as possible.

"People with Alzheimer's can sometimes have dramatic mood swings and personality changes, and it takes patience and experience to work with them," Brenda says. "Part of my job is to help the patients' families understand the disease, so that they know the erratic behavior is part of the disease, not the fault of the person. The families are generally very appreciative, since many of them have played the role of caregiver and they know it can be hard work.

"While working with Alzheimer's patients can be difficult, it also is really rewarding because we develop a bond," she adds. "It is such a great feeling when a patient smiles at me and with a light in her eyes says, 'Oh! It's you!' I love being able to make patients laugh, bringing them out of sad moments and making their day."

When she's not working at The Gardens, Brenda is often working in her own garden - all five acres of it. "Working outdoors is not just a hobby," she says. "It is also a great way to relieve stress!"