Carol Howell Talks Dementia: Where in the World is….

I remember the “Where’s Waldo?” books and puzzles from my daughter’s growing up years. I enjoyed them as much as she did. Recently, my husband and I felt like we were playing “Where’s Waldo?”—except we were not looking for Waldo.

We were in the parking lot at Target while visiting our daughter in South Florida. That meant we had a rental car. We do this frequently, and we always have a different make, model, and color. Fast forward to a trip to Target, and you can picture us coming out of the store looking for our car. Holy Moly! We didn’t even know what color the car was, you could forget us knowing the make or model. We walked around the parking lot pushing the button on the remote hoping a car might light up.

Now I remember a time when my mother-in-law lost her car in the parking lot at our local Belk Department Store, and she called the police to tell them it was stolen! They drove her around the parking lot to help locate the car. She was embarrassed. The crazy thing is, she did this again another time!

This made me think.

I imagine that folks with dementia spend much of their life wishing they could push a button on a remote to solve their feelings of confusion or forgetfulness. They know they should be doing something or responding in a certain way, but they cannot discern what that something is. It has to be a frustrating and even scary experience. Our job is to help lower the tension and anxiety in their world.

How do we help them?

  • Be Kind
  • Be Patient
  • Be Calm
  • Be Sweet
  • Be Tender
  • Be Understanding
  • Be Gentle

If you don’t feel any of those things, Be gone!  Your loved ones don’t need you around if you can’t offer these fruits of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Sounds like an excellent recipe for good dementia caregiving.

Hope that gives you Something to Ponder.

Carol Howell
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