I’ve told you before that I have had loved ones with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. If you’re a caregiver or relative of a loved one with the disease, you probably understand more than most people. Because it’s hard when they get confused. It’s unsettling when they live in the past. It’s sad when they don’t remember. It’s a gift you give to yourself and to them when you just stay present in their world, however it is, in that moment. But the part that hurts the most is when they admit that they know that they’re confused.
To me, that’s the toughest part. To witness their fear, their grief, their feeling of being lost when they blip into the present with that knowing. I’ve written about it before here. As many times as we’ve had these moments of realization that they vocalize, it’s still just as heartbreaking to me as it was the first time we talked about the disease.
I can fool myself into thinking that they are just in their own world, safe and sound, knowing that they are loved. For the most part, that’s how they live. But for the blessed few times that they are able to articulate that for this moment in time, they know that they are confused, that the words that they want to say are fleeting through their minds at rapid speeds and don’t always make it to be spoken, well, it just haunts me.
I visit a memory care facility often and have become friendly with many of the sweet residents. We interact during every one of my visits and I have come to enjoy their company as well. Each with her own distinct personality. Each with her own level of understanding. Each and every one simply wanting to be noticed, to enjoy human interaction and to be shown love.
Some are like the forgotten souls who simply exist and are cared for by strangers who love them. Some of them don’t get many visitors which makes me sad. Some have daily visitations from family who they don’t always remember. Some have bonded with the other ‘golden girls’ with whom they share meals and others are simply existing separately.
The levels of understanding and interaction are as varied as the people themselves and with memory care illnesses, they are changeable at a moment’s notice. One must continue to flow with the present state of mind and ability in order to connect with them. Being a caregiver requires incredible patience and caring. It’s an exhausting job, but one that is so gratifying.
I’m sorry I’ve gone off topic again. The words simply flow out of me when I write about the disease. For it’s not just my loved ones who have it, but an increasing number of people in my life now. There’s a bond among those who have loved ones with the disease. We understand what we’re enduring and we share the ups and downs of the journey as it unfolds.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia keeps us on our toes with its ever changing fluidity. One piece that remains constant is The Presents of Presence and the peace that comes with our choice to embrace this precious moment in time, every time.