credit: Reading Eagle/Susan L. Angstadt
by Jennifer Post Stoudt
One…two…three brightly colored
balls lit up the room as he tossed them up one by one, careful not
to let them drop to the floor. The crowd of onlookers at Country
Meadows, an assisted living facility in Wyomissing, Pa., were mesmerized
by the 11-year-old as he performed his juggling routine.
But as the crowd smiled and laughed with pleasure, a white-haired
woman watched from afar. She stood in the doorway, too scared to
enter but too curious to leave. Her body, pale and fragile, trembled
with nerves, and the look on her face gave away her fears. She was
confused, not knowing where she was and when she’d be returning
home. She had Alzheimer’s disease.
Claudia Strauss spotted the woman and struck up a conversation
with her. "We had the same conversation over and over again.
She couldn’t retain what we had talked about," Strauss
says. But, "What struck me about this woman was her dignity
in the face of fear. There was no doubt she was frightened. No doubt
she was confused. She didn’t know how to get home, and wasn’t
sure she had a place to stay for the night. Yet she was calm, kept
a smile on her face, and observed all the social niceties."