For years I have worked with families whose loved ones had dementia of various kinds. Sons and daughters, husbands and wives, and various family members love to tell others the wonderful qualities that make up their mom, dad, spouse, grandparent, etc. “My Dad was a…” and “My Mom used to…” are phrases that I have heard repetitively. People have a need to celebrate the ones in their life who shaped and molded them into the beautiful souls they are. When faced with the dreaded diagnosis of dementia people have many questions. One question I have been asked over and over is, “What now?” With despair and sadness in their eyes, family members don’t know what to do, especially in the later stages when their loved one doesn’t recognize family anymore. My simple answer to them has been, “Just love them.” Love is an action. So, love with all the strength in your being. Think about what you would want if it happens to you. Honor your loved one with the things they enjoyed in life. Read the Bible or favorite book to her. Paint her fingernails. Play his favorite music. Watch a ball game with him. Plant a pot garden together. Run your hands through a small bucket of sand together and see what kind of conversation it starts. Look at photo albums together and reminisce about family fun. Honor your loved one’s life with your love; though they may not be able to express it, they can feel an aura of love. And when you’ve run out of energy and still can’t make sense of it all, go to your Father who will renew your strength so you can go on to just love them even more.
“Love is patient, love is kind…it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-13