Monday, February 1, 2016

Peaking at the Past

"I will meditate on Thy precepts, and have respect unto Thy ways."  That scripture is from Psalm 119, and it was part of a recent Sunday sermon at my church.  The following statement was made by Reverend Dolores, "Peek at the past to learn.  Praise in the present.  Focus on the future." 
This statement got my attention.  Peeking at the past is part of the life of caregiving for a loved one with dementia.  We help our people peek at the past with hope we can spark a memory.  Sometimes the plan works.  Other times, the plan fails.  There are even times it is a huge disaster.  But wait... sometimes it brings smiles.
Alzheimer's type dementia steals the most recent memories first.   The memories are lostin the opposite order in which they were gained.  In other words, an individual might forget their grandchildren before they forget their children.  They might forget their children next, and then the memory of their wedding may leave them.  What they never forget is their parents.
The memories of our parents are all over our brain.  Our parents and grandparents, as well as our older siblings, all came before us.  Therefore, those memories are prevalent throughout the brain.  No matter how far in the disease the individual may progress, there will most likely always be memories of Momma.  This would explain why a person may continually ask to "go home to Momma."
When working with your loved one with dementia, no matter the stage, peek at their past.  If they were a firefighter, ask questions relevant to their work.  Did they work in a factory or mill?  Ask what products they produced.  If they were a homemaker or pastor or waitress, or whatever, ask questions relevant and spark a conversation.  If this peek into their past does not bring about results, ask about high school, the prom, or graduation.  Ask what work Daddy did when they were growing up.  What was their most favorite meal that Momma prepared?  Keep peeking further into their past until you hit upon a topic they remember.
Our loved ones cannot "Focus on the future," as my pastor stated in her sermon, but we can help to bring them joy by "peeking into the past."  Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.

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