This month, I’ve been asking myself and others, What have you learned about love from your dementia journey? Here are some of the profound answers:
I learned that it is redefined. I loved my mother as my parent, and then learned to love her as a child. And I would not trade that experience for anything. Pamela J. Van Ahn, Executive Director at Caring Together in Hope, Inc., Atlanta, GA
I have learned that love remains, even as memory fails. Long after your name is forgotten, there are still frequent glimpses of recognition that are very meaningful. The Alzheimer’s patient does not become “a different person”. They are much more “still there” than easily meets the eye. With Alzheimer’s disease, things that have emotional context are remembered the longest, and love is a strong emotion. Max Wallack, research intern in the Molecular Psychiatry in Aging Laboratory at Boston University School of Medicine, Boston MA.
I have learned so many lessons regarding love through my mothers journey with dementia. Here are just a couple of them. There are multiple levels of unconditional love. Each one is more precious and runs deeper then the next. “Letting Go” of our need to control is one of the most loving things we can do for a person with dementia and ourselves. Allowing a person with dementia to be in a loving respectful relationship, even if it might be with someone unexpected, is a gift to all and does not mean they love us less. Love runs much deeper than a name. We need to stop quizzing a person with dementia to check if they know and love us. A name has nothing to do with the bond and connection between two souls. Lori La Bey, Founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks , St. Paul, Minnesota, www.AlzheimersSpeaks.com