TAMMY ADAMS and SUSAN FISHER
Caring for a loved one living with dementia is a unique experience that can bring great rewards and moments of sadness and frustration. Although it can be a difficult and emotional journey, it can also provide moments of joy, laughter, and connection. Recognizing and appreciating these moments can be a source of strength for those caring for a person with dementia.
Caregivers know their days can be filled with difficult and challenging moments. As the disease progresses, the person may become increasingly confused and forgetful and need help with daily activities like dressing and getting around. This can be a source of great stress for the caregiver and can lead to natural feelings of guilt, frustration, and sadness. At the same time, however, moments of joy can be found in caring for a person with dementia. A caregiver can find joy in the small moments of connection and recognition which still exist between them and their loved one; a smile, a touch, laughter, song, and the look of recognition in their clear moments. Even if the person has difficulty expressing themselves in words, they may still be able to respond to the caregiver’s touch or voice. These moments of connection can be the most rewarding part of caring for a person with dementia.
Another source of joy in caring for someone living with dementia can be found in the simple moments of joy which can be found in everyday life. Taking the time to enjoy a walk together in the park, watch a favourite movie, listen to a favourite song or poem, or share a meal can help to bring moments of joy and connection to even the most difficult days. Taking the time to appreciate the small moments of joy that still exist can help to bring meaning and purpose to the journey of caring for a loved one living with dementia.
Have you seen the heartwarming video of the husband who proposes to his wife every week, and every week she’s overwhelmed with happiness and says “yes”? Or the story of the man who goes to the store every week to buy his wife a bouquet of flowers even though she doesn’t remember who he is? People living with dementia may not always know who their loved ones are, but they know they love them and that they hold a special place in their hearts.
Caring for them can also bring joy, knowing that the caregiver is making a difference in their loved one’s life. Even if the person is no longer able to remember the caregiver’s name, the caregiver knows their presence and care is making a difference in the person’s life. You are their safety net, their comfort, and their familiar person. Without you as their caregiver, what would they do?
Taking the time to recognize and appreciate the moments of joy which still exist can be a source of strength for the caregiver. Caring for a loved one living with dementia can be a difficult and emotional journey, but it can also bring with it moments of joy, laughter, and connection. Learning to recognize and appreciate these moments of joy can be a source of strength for the caregiver and a reminder that even in the most difficult times, there is still joy to be found. If you are a caregiver and you’re reading this – you are amazing! What you do makes a difference, and your efforts do not go unnoticed.
Tammy and Susan run Silver Lights Senior Services, a family-owned and operated seniors’ homecare company serving the City of Kawartha Lakes, Port Perry and Uxbridge. They recently opened an Adult Day Program for Dementia in Lindsay. Find them on Facebook and Instagram or visit their website at www.silverlightsseniorservices.com.