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Humour can help with your loved one’s quality of life by Tina Y. Gerber

My Mother had a good sense of humour, always laughing and joking around, after being diagnosed with Dementia and Parkinson’s.

Individuals with dementia may have lost a part of their memory, but they still appreciate humour and laughter. I can hear both my granny and mother laughing to this very day. Even when Mother had difficulty communicating, she liked watching people, and she would laugh at the little things. I was most surprised with the rapport she had with her caregivers while living at the Home. Her laughter was like a breath of fresh air in what was a very stressful situation.

To admit it, I was a tad jealous, at times, of her support workers. Every Christmas, my sister would buy me something to make me laugh, which in turn made Mother laugh. Her last year living at home, with us, was no different. Her laughter was always one of the family highlights at Christmastime.

One time, when Mother was attempting to put on her socks, she was getting so frustrated, mostly because she had already put on her shoes! I stepped in and took her sock, and explained how to put it on properly. She watched me intently as I began to put the sock on her hand. The corners of her mouth turned up as a smile lit her face. At that moment, the universe began to sing.

Older people may likely use humour as a coping mechanism. Humour can help caregivers understand and support people with dementia, to alleviate stress and help improve their quality of life.

I have so many wonderful memories, not only of Mother but the many residents who struggled daily with their routines. We should remember, laughter is a non-pharmacologic way to deal with dementia, and for most stresses. Just stop and think. Can you imagine if everything was strange and confusing to you? By using humour, you would be able to lighten the mood, hopefully creating a “normal” and safe environment. Sometimes, that laughter will remove the fog of fear, if only for a moment.

The Bible has no specific passages which address dementia, but a major key to coping with dementia, or any other generative disease is to remember; no matter what your circumstances, God’s character does not change. His promises still hold true. God does not say all things are good (such as dementia), but rather, God says, “He works good in all things.” What gives me comfort, is, knowing God is still in control. With dementia, you may become uncertain and confused interacting with the people around you, but God knows you. That is such a comforting fact.

I was always worried that Mother would not find her way to heaven, but even though she forgot who she was mentally, in Isaiah 49:16, God declares to Jerusalem “your name is written on the palm of My hand.” God’s Love never changes, and when he came as Christ he took the nail wounds on the cross in his hands. They reflect an eternal reminder of Love and care for us.

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