Family Caregivers, Gram Helen's Story

Family Caregivers Must Live in the Moment

Since opening Gentog, I’ve learned a little bit about being around people with dementia.  I’ve learned that it takes patience and calm and love to communicate with them.  I’ve learned that you shouldn’t take negative moments personally.  When you’re dealing with someone else’s spouse or parent or grandparent that’s pretty easy stuff.

Since Gram came to live at my house I’ve had to really draw on these lessons.  I’ve learned that when it’s your own beloved grandma saying “I just want to go home right now!”, it hurts your feelings.  I know it’s the disease talking.  I know it’s the pain in her shoulder causing her to be emotional.  I know that she loves me dearly today, just as she has for the past 53 years.  But in that angry moment, my feelings are a little hurt.

I’ve been reading a GREAT book on caregiving.  “Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s” by Joanne Koenig Coste gives some really valuable advise.  The most important to me is this:

“Never question, chastise, or try to reason with the patient.  Join him in his current ‘place’ or time, no matter when or where that may be, and find joy with him there.”

So that’s my daily goal…to join Gram where she is, and to find joy with her there.  And it’s my goal to forget the sad and angry moments as soon as they are over.  They are few and far between.  The joyful moments happen so many times every day.  Those are the moments I will hold onto.  Those are the moments I’ll remember when this sweet time is over.  And I pray every day that Gram will find peace in her dementia and stop longing for her former home.  I pray that she will know that my home IS her home, and that she is very loved here.

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