I follow a blog called “Suddenly Mad”. The blogger is a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s. I’ve become attached to her through her blogging. She is one amazing lady. She never gives up trying. Never gives up doing. She is a fierceless warrior on Alzheimer’s disease even though she’s rapidly declining.
With all of her tenacity and pushing forward to keep her brain working however she can, she has come across previous co-workers, students and even friends (people she thought were her friends) who when they see her, they don’t acknowledge her. It’s as if she has some contagious disease. She doesn’t undertand why these people are turning their backs on her. It’s hurtful.
This morning I was reading something Max Lucado wrote. If you’re not familiar with Max Lucado, he is a Pastor in San Antonio, Texas and a renowned author.
This morning Max wrote about “The Touch of God”. One of the things he said described why people shy away from those with illness and other maladies. Here’s what he said:
But others of us tend to forget. Our hearts are good; it’s just that our memories are bad. We forget how significant one touch can be. We fear saying the wrong thing or using the wrong tone or acting the wrong way. So rather than do it incorrectly, we do nothing at all.
Do you see that? “We fear saying the wrong thing or using the wrong tone or acting the wrong way. So rather than do it incorrectly, we do nothing at all.”
I believe that is what’s been happening to my blogger friend. People are insecure about what to say to her.
If you are a caregiver, I’m sure you’ve seen this too. But instead of getting hurt or angry at these insecure people, speak up. Let them know there is no wrong way to talk to someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s. The important thing is to acknowledge them, smile, shake their hand and say something kind. Of course, I don’t think that’s hard to do, but that’s my personality. Other people might be so insecure they just can’t bring themselves to reach out and say a simple hello. If that’s the case, give them a little nudge and tell them it’s okay; the person with dementia won’t bite.
People with dementia and Alzheimer’s still want to be recognized even if they don’t show it. They are still “in there”, and having a friend or relative take the time to just stop by and see how they’re doing will more than likely put a smile on their face. If you think they won’t remember you, you might be wrong. It’s surprising what they remember. And even if they don’t remember you, so what? You have made their day.
I can only reinforce how important it is to stay present in your loved ones life. If you still have a hard time with this, imagine yourself in their shoes.
Here is the full story from Max Lucado if you would like to read it.