Friday, March 20, 2015

Dementia and "What You See"

I am a writer who specializes in dementia. I am always seeking to learn more about dementia in its various forms, and I want to help people who, like me, are loving and caring for someone with dementia. More and more I have come to realize that dementia and ordinary life share many "personality traits". Today let's look at a very common trait between ordinary life and dementia.
We have all heard the phrase, " What you see is what you get." That is very seldom true. We might envision life in a certain way, but reality plays out much differently. For example, we see the new job as being exactly what we have always sought, and reality shows all the flaws and struggles that actually come with the new position. We think the new boyfriend or girlfriend is so much better than last week's option, and then we see personality traits that drive us bonkers. The get rich quick plan seems fabulous, and then we learn we have been scammed. We do not always get what we see when it comes to life.

Dementia is the same way. Many folks enter the home of an individual with advanced dementia, and they see someone who can't remember, can't feed themself, can't read, and can't complete a sentence. They decide what they SEE is not worth their effort. This person has nothing to offer, and they choose not to bother themselves with visiting. The truth, however, is this individual is more than what you see.

Take the time to sit beside them. Position yourself on their dominate side (it will increase their ability to comprehend), place your hand on their shoulders, use the palm of your hand to rub a figure eight onto the top of their back, and look directly into their eyes while you smile broadly. Ask them about high school or growing up or what they did for a living. You might be surprised at what you learn. Be patient while they tell their story. Do not try to help with words, do not correct facts, and do not look away. Allow them to enjoy your undivided attention, and you might discover that “what you see is NOT what you get”.
Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.


A Sunday school teacher was telling her class the story of the Good Samaritan.  She asked the class, "If you saw a person lying on the roadside, all wounded and bleeding, what would you do?"

A thoughtful little girl broke the hushed silence, "I think I'd throw up."

Sometimes, You've Just Got To Laugh!

Friday, March 6, 2015


She remembers less and less everyday.  She still smiles.  She is still active in her assisted living.  She still recognizes her family.  But she is forgetting things.  There are days when her forgetfulness causes us both to feel as if we are drowning.  Hold on, though, we will not drown.  We are not traveling this journey alone.  Hallelujah!

I am participating in a daily on-line Bible reading called “She Reads Truth” (and you should check it out).   Recently we read through Esther and remembered how God used Esther to bring about a plan.  It was not the road Esther would have ever dreamed she would have traveled.  It probably was not a plan Esther would have chosen for herself.  Yet it was God’s road and God’s plan for her, and it was the BEST road and the BEST plan.

One particular day's devotional commentary stated,  "God's hand of rescue uses all of the moments - small or silly or confusing or isolating or terrifying though they may be - as pieces of our own rescue story."   Can I begin to explain how comforting that is when I see Momma leaving me a little more each day?  My love for this woman is deeper than even I realized, and I am becoming acutely aware of how difficult life is for HER.  I also am amazed at how much I still need my Momma.  You would assume a 53 year old, successful, independent woman would have worked past a “need” for her mother, but you would be wrong.  

I need my Momma to listen to my stories and laugh with me.  I need my Momma to listen to my stories and cry with me.  I need my Momma to say the funny things she says so I can come back with my usual smarty-pants response.  I need my Momma to put her arms around me and say, “Come crawl in the bed with me, and we will spend the morning being lazy.”  I need my Momma to say, “I love you, Carol Lynn, do you know that?”  I need my Momma to smile at me when I enter the door.  When this ceases, I am afraid my heart will shatter deeply.

For now, I wipe the tears, and I concentrate on the quotation from today’s reading.  Let me remind us both of those words - "God's hand of rescue uses all of the moments - small or silly or confusing or isolating or terrifying though they may be - as pieces of our own rescue story."  Thank you, God, for being MY rescuer.  

Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.