Carol Howell Talks Dementia: Laughter, the Best Medicine

She was signing herself in for a chiropractor’s visit, and Sissy and I were with her. We all three see Dr. Benjamin at eight in the morning every Tuesday and Thursday. We spend the morning making Momma laugh with our silliness while we wait. However, the signing in procedure that morning was no laughing matter.

While standing at the sign­-in sheet, Sissy said “Momma sign us all three in.” Momma signed herself in, and then started signing our names. She wrote “Sissy,” and then paused. She whispered to me as I stood beside her, “Carol, I can’t remember her last name.” She was disturbed by this lapse in her memory. Sissy and I both felt sick.

Folks, if you have been reading my blogs, or read my book, or heard me speak to groups, you would probably agree I have a fairly good handle on dementia, Alzheimer’s, and caregiving. However, on this particular morning, my knowledge, education and understanding of dementia did not keep me from being so very sad.

I realized Momma has forgotten the last names of her children. This is not news that is easy to take, but at least I understand the “why” of the situation. Nonetheless, Sissy and I both felt really sad that morning.

“That’s OK, Momma. Just sign us in as Larry, Moe, and Curly,” I said. I could have made a big deal of her memory loss, but that wouldn’t have changed or helped the situation in any way. Laughing off the issue, and going on with the day as if nothing had happened, proved to be a good way to handle the sadness we all three felt.

Life is full of no matter what disabilities, illnesses, or trials we face. It has been proven repeatedly that laughter is truly good medicine. When someone has dementia, laughter is essential. Momma is a happier person when we are silly. Honestly, there are times it makes us tired to be so very UP all the time, but having dementia is making HER tired, also. We will continue to do our part to make her life happy. You see, her smile brings tons of joy to our day.

Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.

Carol Howell
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