I think we can learn something very important from observing the ‘pleasantly confused’ folks with dementia. Not all dementia sufferers possess this quality, but interacting with the ones that do has given me joy and taught me some lessons that I should think about applying more in my life. Let me share some of those things with you.
Live in the moment! To be sure, in the mind of somebody with dementia, this is not always the moment that you are living in. It could be a moment from their young life as a mother raising her children or as a father going off to work, the memory of taking the bus into town (leading them to ask you where the bus stop is), or of a spouse (long dead) and expecting them to appear at any moment. And all with such joy and certainty because this is where they are! I would encourage you to go there with them and enjoy their ‘moment’. It could become a moment you will remember and cherish later!
No worries! The pleasantly confused hold a corner on this valuable real estate! With their ability to be in the moment they have no worries. Everything is good. They smile and find joy in their interactions. They are not worried about the bills (though you may be), where the next meal is coming from or the next big project at work. The laundry is not of concern, nor is the menu for the next extended family dinner. Ah, can you imagine being able to let go of all of the day-to-day worries for just a moment?
Find joy where you can! Many things, though routine for you, become unexpected pleasures to someone with dementia. I have a very good friend who works in the facility where her pleasantly confused father lives. Each time that he sees her, he gets a big smile on his face and asks her, ‘What are you doing here?’ (with surprise in his voice). And though she has the same conversation with him each time, it always brings him such joy! (My secret hope is that if dementia is in my future, this is how I will be….)
Live in the moment! No worries! Find joy where you can! I thank all of those with dementia that I have cared for over the years who have taught me these lessons. I am not perfect at applying them daily, but they have been well taught. Thank you also for allowing me glimpses into the most precious moments of your lives; for sharing your families, journeys and wisdom with me. Thank you for the honor of being a part of your final journeys.
If you have a loved one with dementia and can find a way to take some pleasure in being ‘in the moment’ with them, I guarantee, you will come to a time when you can treasure this side of your parent as well as the ‘whole’ and healthy one of your past. Be in their world for as long as they continue to be a blessing in yours……
On the journey with you…….Kathy