Carol Howell Talks Dementia: Following the Ambulance

If you drive very often, you will eventually find yourself behind an ambulance. When this happens to me, I pray. I pray for the person who is sick, the EMT staff, the family, and the hospital staff. I do not know these folks, but God does.

While following this particular ambulance a few months ago, I prayed…a lot! It was carrying my Momma. We stopped at a light, and I was reminded of my practice of praying when I see an ambulance. With tears in my eyes, I prayed for my Momma.

Momma has mid-stage Alzheimer’s, and she carries with her a huge part of my heart. A smile on that woman’s face gives me strength and determination to slay dragons. A sad expression from her can easily drain my energy and make me sad, also. Momma says we are “hooked at the hip.” I think she is correct.

When I look back on my childhood, I remember Momma teaching me to sew and read pattern instructions so a garment turned our correctly. She taught me to cook, but she never used a recipe. She taught me to keep a budget and balance the checkbook. She taught me the traits of a good housekeeper, a good wife, and a good mother. (She did not, however, teach me how to do laundry or iron. I’ve made a few bad mistakes in the process of learning these things.)

Momma remembers us doing these things together. Alzheimer’s robs our loved ones of recent memories As the disease progresses, it also steals memories from the past. Memories are lost in the opposite order from which they were gained. That means Momma doesn’t remember this morning, or yesterday or last month, or last year, but she still remembers ten years ago, and my childhood, and her childhood. Those are the things we talk about.

When you spend time with your loved one, go back in time and pull up old memories from your storage of great stories. Share them with your loved one. They will be able to participate in the conversation. It will give them a sense of accomplishment and belonging, and it will reduce anxiety and depression. That’s good news.

Hope that gives you Something to Ponder.

We are not discouraged. Even though our outer nature suffers decay, our inner nature is renewed day after day.
-2 Corinthians 4:16

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