Love your writing and your consistently positive, personal and thoughtful perspectives. I have a parent who is pretty far along with Alzheimer’s/Dementia. How can I try to participate in life with her even though I can no longer have a rational conversation with her, and even though she won’t remember my comments or even my presence five minutes from now?
A Concerned Adult Child
Dear Adult Child,
Dementia of any kind is often more difficult on the family members who love those who are afflicted. We as family members continue on with our daily lives, maintaining the status quo, while the dementia patient continues to regress rather than progress.
You are a loving son to want to continue to participate with your parent with dementia. Your participation with her will be different than that which you are accustomed to. It may very much feel like you are now the parent, and your parent may seem to you to be more like a child.
While this is sad for us as family members, and may be difficult to adjust to, it is normal in the dementia situation. No, she may not be capable of rational conversation, or remember your comments or your presence five minutes from now, but she will enjoy your engagement in the moment. If she plays the piano, sit with her or sing along. If she looks out the window and watches the birds fly by, stand and watch with her. Comment on what you see.
Really, this is Biblical. The Bible teaches us not to worry about tomorrow, for today has enough worries of its own. That is very much trying to teach us to be present, in this minute. That is where we find God. He is right here, working in the moment, waiting for us to take a few moments to be present with Him.
So love your parent now, in this moment, for what you delight in her right now. Enjoy this present moment with her. None of us knows how much time we have.
I will be praying for you, as God walks you through this journey.
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
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