A CBS News story As man’s mind fades, heart comes to the rescue that was shared with me illustrates one of the wild cards in caring for some with dementia or Alzheimer’s. It took me a while to recognize how emotions layered in surprising memories as well as frustrating encounters along my care giving journey.
It’s wonderful story about Melvin who leaves home on foot to get flowers for his wife for Mother’s Day. The local police find him and he is adamant about bringing home flowers for his wife — but can’t even tell the police where he lives to return home. The police help him get the flowers and they return Melvin home to his wife Doris.
As the adult child caregiver, my Dad once told me I don’t understand why you are so upset. He just felt like he was exercising his right to live his life and didn’t know that their retirement community would call me when they left since they were concerned for their safety. I recognized that he would never understand, and had to adapt my own emotions to manage through the events as they happened.
With my parents, the comfort and fun we have shared have benefited me more than having to manage through parents being “parented” by their children. During a rough patch, after I got my emotions in check, I was able to spend time with my parents and find an activity we could do together that restored some of the parent-child interactions and gave them an activity they enjoyed. In one particular instance, my Mom called me twice to tell me they really had a nice time today.
The emotional memories that last may lurk in the background and I hope you will find they surprise you in a positive way along your journey. Reminded.