November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month as well as National Caregiver Month. This disease forces caregivers to endure what I call the “living grief” of losing loved ones to this devastating disease while they are still here. Alzheimer’s took my mother from me in little pieces over the ten years we walked together with this condition. I cried and bled with every piece the disease ripped from Mother’s memory and from my soul.
As I struggled to find ways to reconnect with some part of her, I remembered that Mother loved having her nails done. I brought my manicure and pedicure tools to the nursing home. I also remembered that Mother loved Count Basie, Brooke Benton, and Classic Motown. The nursing home staff kept Mother’s little boom box and tapes locked up in the nurses’ station. Mother NEVER forgot how to dance. She would laugh and grin as we jitterbugged and boogied in her room or in the hall. The nurses also learned to play Mother’s music to calm her when she was agitated.
Whether it’s dancing, sharing music, art, and photos, reading favorite literature, brushing hair, or giving massages with oil or lotion in a favored scent, use what they loved to bring back the joy, even when the memory fades.
My daughter sent me this video. See how love lets joy penetrate the veil of dementia.