As we are born and start to understand the world around us, the need for achievement and purpose
come to the forefront. We all have this basic need to feel that we are good at something, we are needed
and important. Whether you are in your dream job, still trying to decide what you want to be when you
grow up, taking care of babies or living the retired life, you still want to feel needed and wanted. As we
age and leave the 9-5 world and children become adults, we may enjoy not being needed as much, but
eventually there is a natural tug to continue contributing to this life in some way. Maybe it’s
volunteering or taking care of grandkids, whatever it is, it gives you purpose.
Creating Avenues for Purpose – Ms. Ruth
For many of our clients, they may have entered a season of life where they aren’t needed as much and
find it harder to contribute their gifts to this world. Some of them have cognitive changes or mental
health symptoms that make it hard to plan and coordinate activities to use their talents. I have a client
who is 92 years old. She is a former educator and an avid reader. She reads with inflection in just the
right spots and keeps the listener engaged. Her family recognizes these wonderful attributes about her
and thinks it’s important that she still be able to contribute. As her Care Manager I sought out
opportunities for her to read to groups. Over the last year we read twice to a small group of members at
a local adult day center. The members seemed to enjoy it and Ms. Ruth did as well. The first reading, she
read from personal journals that she kept while living abroad and together we engaged the group in
discussion. The next reading was around Christmas and she read short stories about the holiday season.
We stayed just at 30 minutes both reading sessions, and that was enough to offer some enjoyment to
others and give Ms. Ruth a sense of achievement and purpose. She enjoyed doing this and wondered if
there might be other groups in the community that would enjoy her services.
A Former Teacher Still Teaching
That got me thinking about my boy’s school. I have an upcoming 1 st and 4 th grader. During the last month
of school for my then Kindergartner, I asked his teacher if Ms. Ruth and I could come and read to the
class or help with reading lessons. His teacher graciously entertained the idea. We eventually worked it
out that Ms. Ruth and I would come after lunch one afternoon. I had in my brain, how it would go. I was
a bit nervous going into this new setting with Ms. Ruth as I knew a large group of Kindergartners may be
hard to engage and keep engaged. When we arrived at the classroom the students filed in from lunch
and sat on their assigned carpet spots. I introduced Ms. Ruth to the students and the teacher. The
students learned her age and seemed to think it was cool to meet a 92-year-old. Ms. Ruth read two
books to the class. She has a voice that you just want to listen to. She shows expression on her face and
the students felt it. After the second book, it was going so well that I suggested a third. At that point, I
think Ms. Ruth was ready for something else, so the teacher suggested we go over “sight words” with
the children. These are words they memorize to assist them with increasing their reading fluency. Ms.
Ruth held each card in front of the class with a different word on it and the class read the word out loud.
As these are words the students go over frequently, we quickly realized many of them had them
memorized and knew the next word before the card was even shown. So, my client with her innate
teacher skills, started making up sentences with the words and placing a “blank” for the word before she
showed the card. This gave them a bit more to think about, which they really liked. Once we were done
with sight words, we had been there about 30 minutes and I could tell Ms. Ruth was feeling good about
our work and ready to go. We thanked the teacher and said goodbye to the students, they did not want
us to leave.
Care Manger’s Help Client’s Share Their Gifts
I believe we all have 5 needs: survival, love, freedom, fun and achievement. As caregivers, let’s not
forget that last one. Maybe your loved one’s gifts are still accessible and available to others. Maybe they
just need a little assistance coordinating how to share them. Care Managers assess our client’s whole
person and needs. We not only identify concerns but also areas of growth that can provide better
quality of life. It is our pleasure to get to know your loved one and give them the gift of still offering their
gifts to others. Feeling needed is something we all deserve. Reach out today, even if it’s just to
brainstorm how we might meet your loved one’s need of achievement.
Purpose is the definition of a life well lived. -Sister Joan Chittister, Author of The Time Is Now