Cooking up New Connections

This appeared in the Kansas City Star on Monday, November 24th.

A version of this story will appear in Deborah’s next book:  Creativity in the Land of Dementia: Finding Inspiration in the Care Partner’s Journey 

Cooking up new connections


Special to The Star

The dread seized me in early October.
Thanksgiving was normally my favorite holiday, and I had always looked forward to seeing my parents from Memphis and my brother and his family from Chicago. But the year my mother showed up without her famous butterscotch brownies, bourbon balls and date crumbs, I understood that her dementia was progressing and everything was changing.
Instead of working beside my brother and me in the kitchen, instead of laughingly (and bossily) setting the table with me, Mom huddled on the sofa, next to Dad, loath to let him out of her sight. She turned to him for everything: to explain the food on her plate, to remind her of our names and to reassure her that he’d be right there beside her. Her vulnerability and confusion were devastating, and I’d felt exhausted, lonely and weepy the whole long weekend.
I felt alone, but of course I wasn’t: There were 15 million family/friend caregivers helping the 5 million Americans who have dementia.
The next holiday season, I vowed things would be different. I would find ways to engage Mom so she could contribute to the meal. My brother Dan was head cook and I was a sous chef, so I decided to involve Mom with my vegetable preparation.

Join us in the kitchen for the rest of the story : 

Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.

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