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!"