Poopy Fingers

One Person's Account of Working in the Delightfully Strange World of Assisted Living

Non-Fiction - Memoir
250 Pages
Reviewed on 04/05/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

If the colorful photo of a group of smiling seniors on the cover of this memoir with the strongly visual title of Poopy Fingers: One Person's Account of Working in the Delightfully Strange World of Assisted Living grabs your attention, just wait till you read what Kevin Donner has inside! Discarding any thoughts of what’s proper, for honest, unabashed reality, Donner, a former senior activities director for an Assisted Living Community reveals that poopy fingers are just one of the hazards of his job. Prepare yourself for some unforgettable close encounters with all sides of the seniors of Gleeful Meadow…the good, the sad, and the ugly. These residents will have you both laughing and crying in this delightfully entertaining, but sensitively written and poignant memoir. At Gleeful Meadows, you’ll need to watch out for Millicent who drives her motorized wheelchair like a Ferrari, clipping doorframes and purposely throwing herself out of the chair and onto the floor. Then there’s Tom, who’s eagerly awaiting a letter from the President when he turns 100. A trip to IHOP with this eager bunch of seniors leaves readers in stitches and Donner in panic when one goes missing. But watching that same group perform a play brings enthusiastic applause and tears of joy to those family members who have come to watch Grandma regain a sense of pride and usefulness. How beautiful!

There is so much I could share with you but, if you are wrestling with a major decision such as putting a beloved family member into an assisted living community, you need to read this book and carefully consider all options. Yes, this memoir is often very funny but care for the aged is also a very serious subject. Donner alerts readers to the concerns and dangers faced by seniors with Alzheimer's or Dementia, and also those caregivers who look after them. It’s anything but an easy job. Apart from thoroughly enjoying this book, I learned so much. I laughed and cried, sometimes fearful for my very near future, and in some ways, hoping I don’t live too long. I can’t leave this review without thanking Kevin Donner for writing Poopy Fingers. His sense of humor and excellent conversational style of writing made this such a wonderful read. But what I will most remember is the sincerity and genuine love he gave to the residents of Gleeful Meadows. How lucky they were to have him!

Asher Syed

Poopy Fingers: One Person's Account of Working in the Delightfully Strange World of Assisted Living by Kevin Donner is a compilation of stories that take a reader on an armchair adventure in the shoes of a professional carer. Donner provides a slice-of-life narrative as he opens up about the most memorable moments of his career. These run the gamut of the good, the not-so-good, and, as the title suggests, the very, very dirty. Some of the stories are downright hilarious while others are difficult to read, but all are heart-warming. Donner doesn't just give the residents the spotlight but also includes actions and reactions from their friends, family, other staff members, and, of course, Donner himself.

Poopy Fingers begins with Kevin Donner addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact senior care facilities would have had to go through. It's a brief but touching nod to the fluidity of health, circumstance, and isolation. There is a common theme that runs through Donner's retelling of all the stories he shares, and that is dignity. Be it a resident named Fred who is continually waiting for his daughter and, perhaps, a little white lie for a moment of reprieve for both Fred and the staff is good for everyone, or Donner being called fat straight to his face by his in-laws outside the care facility. The stories and the people who form the book as a whole are incredibly diverse, made real to those of us who never knew them, coming to life in Donner's compassionate, witty and intelligent style of writing.

Foluso Falaye

Kevin Donner's decision to work in senior care brought him into a world that impacted and enriched him significantly with some new delightful friends and several unforgettable moments. Poopy Fingers is a deeply thoughtful account of Kevin's working days at Gleeful Meadows Assisted Living Facility. The book is filled with several interesting characters, like the senior who left meetings several times to "go have diarrhea", the ninety-seven-year-old man who still did one-arm pushups, and the lady who took every corner "too tight and too fast" and left several random objects in her wake. Kevin Donner's memoir gives readers a captivating glimpse into the reality of our seniors in the last stages of their lives, especially those in American care facilities.

I loved how Poopy Fingers highlights some important values we are neglecting as a species that seems more focused on materialistic values: good communication between different demographic groups, looking after the wellbeing of everyone and leaving nobody out regardless of age, and having quality physical fun with others. Kevin Donner is quite skilled at finding humor in serious situations, and I found myself laughing out loud several times throughout my reading. I enjoyed the profound insights about both the good and the bad things Kevin experienced in senior care, like losing friends to old age and learning to "walk the journey" with demented seniors instead of resisting the reality. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who knows a senior citizen, lives with one, or works in the assisted living industry. I loved it! Poopy Fingers is a brilliant memoir—funny and compelling with a bittersweet taste that lingers on like lemon juice.

Jamie Michele

Gleeful Meadows Assisted Living Facility sets the stage for Kevin Donner and his memoir, Poopy Fingers: One Person's Account of Working in the Delightfully Strange World of Assisted Living. Between the book's covers are Donner's experiences inside the facility where he worked, interspersed with snippets from his personal life that together form the picture of a man who has made caring for others a priority. The majority of Donner's memoir reflects that and, as an individual, not a carer but as a decent human being, patients and staff were fortunate to have him on their side. All told there are fourteen chapters in the book that each hold one more fascinating nugget of unfiltered, unvarnished, and uncanny revelations than the one before.

As I read this book, something I took the time to do over a couple nights, my husband kept asking if I was reading “that potty book”. Poopy Fingers is not a potty book, although Kevin Donner does warn us that a patient or two may have pooped in a pot. Poopy Fingers is a well-written ode about the author's time in service to arguably the most vulnerable age group. A huge number of the people served suffered from various degrees of dementia or Alzheimers, and the revolving door of staff was eye-opening. I laughed when a particularly spry patient was found on the ground outside the facility and was grateful for the help of a man entering. The man was a state welfare auditor inspecting the place. Donner is a husband and a father and in describing an ultrasound visit before his son was born he wondered, “Would he be proud of his father?” I do not know Donner but based on the pages in my hand, the answer is 100% yes.

Pikasho Deka

Poopy Fingers is an autobiographical memoir by Kevin Donner recounting his experiences of working in the delightfully strange world of assisted living. After years of moving around due to his wife's job as a certified physician, Canadian national Kevin Donner finally stumbles upon the job he feels he was born for in Seattle, Washington. He joins the Gleeful Meadows Assisted Living Facility located in one of Seattle's suburbs called Renton as an activities director. While taking care of Seniors living in the facility, Kevin comes to know their colorful personalities and starts to care deeply for their well-being. Whether dealing with numerous challenges that come with Senior care, laughing at the ridiculous situations that he used to find himself in, or taking care of his burgeoning family, Kevin takes everything in his stride and continues moving forward.

Poopy Fingers is an inspirational and quite entertaining read that sheds light on the inner workings of Senior care facilities and showcases the challenges faced by the quite often overlooked and underappreciated caregivers who work diligently to make life easier for the residents. Author Kevin Donner's quick wit and light-hearted humor make the narrative a breeze to go through. Donner adds a personal touch to each of his anecdotes that makes the stories feel authentic and relatable to the reader. After reading the book, you can't help but feel a newfound appreciation for the caregivers working at the Assisted Living facilities. I had a wonderful time reading Poopy Fingers. Recommended to readers who love inspirational stories.