He is one of my favorite people because he is so very kind to my mother who has mid-stage Alzheimer’s. He reminds her when it is time to have lunch and dinner. He knocks on her door to escort her to Bingo and other activities. He encourages her to get on the bus and take day trips with the other residents. He makes her feel special, and I am very grateful for all his kindness.
I am not privy to the various diagnoses of the residents where my mother lives, but experience has me guessing he has Lewy Body Dementia. Lewy Body Dementia most often leads to very vivid hallucinations. This wonderfully kind man hallucinates, and he spends his evening hours in a state of panic. It is sad. It is life changing. It is destroying him.
He recently arrived at church wearing a suit and necktie. That sounds perfect, and it was. Except for one detail. The necktie was on the outside of the collar. In fact, it was resting on the skin of his neck. It looked strange, and part of me wanted to offer to help with this necktie issue. Another part of me said, “Does it matter? Does he seem to mind that his necktie is not properly placed? Will it make his worship experience more meaningful to have his necktie adjusted?” Truthfully, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “NO!” Instead, as worship leader, I asked him to lead us in our prayer of petition, and I was reminded.
I was reminded that he prays beautifully. His words and thoughts come together in prayer in a way that will make your heart stop and the tears flow. He loves the Lord. He lets you know this through his everyday care for my mother. He let the congregation know through his heartfelt words offered in prayer. His necktie was not a concern to him, and it certainly did not stand in the way of his conversation with God. What does the scripture tell us? “Come unto me, all…” There was no exclusion for those whose clothing might not be perfect.
It all made me think, and I hope it gives you Something to Ponder.
Carol Howell is a Certified Dementia Specialist and Endorsed Life Coach with an emphasis on Creative Music Experiences. After her husband’s closed-head injury in 1996 and her mother’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in 2006, Carol began her study of the brain and the various forms of dementia that exist. Through her not-for profit company, Senior Life Journeys, she is actively involved in the lives of individuals who are caregiving for a loved-one with dementia as she helps them develop caregiving techniques. Carol’s latest book, Let’s Talk Dementia-A Caregiver’s Guide, is an Amazon #1 Best Seller, and it is an easy to read guide for caregivers of individuals with dementia. She also wrote the best seller If My Body Is A Temple, Why Am I Eating Doughnuts? It tells of the amazing miracle that caused her to lose 100 pounds. You can follow her blog—Something to Ponder—at www.seniorlifejourneys.com.