It seems like when something is on your mind, you see it everywhere you look. When recently reading, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo, I read several take-aways related back to caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.
The recurring theme in the book is “keeping only those things that speak to your heart” and asking yourself “does this spark joy.” This idea is so important in many aspects of life. Albeit, one must understand sorrow to appreciate joy, finding the silver lining during difficult times can give you comfort and peace.
Visiting a person with Alzheimer’s may not “spark joy” for you the minute you walk into a community, however, even if fleeting, it might create joy for that person with the disease. The more time you have with a loved one suffering from dementia, the more opportunity you have to let that person “speak to your heart.” There are countless stories in which family members thought visits were in vain just to realize in a moment of a Resident’s lucidity, how much alive that person still was. “Sparking joy” could come from a laugh with a staff member remising memories with your loved one or simply the touch of holding hands. If a visit is going poorly and not productive for either party, cut that visit short and find joy at a different time.
The fact is that Alzheimer’s and most forms of dementia are non-reversible. The person you know now is not the person you knew ten years ago. As Marie Kondo wrote, “[N]o matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important.” The “new” person with dementia must be embraced even if it means finding joy by tapping into their reality.
Alzheimer’s changes a person, but they are still a person that can speak to your heart if you let them. Count blessings and find joy in the moments that you have with your Mom, Dad, Husband, Wife or friend.