By Judy Berry
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Just two days ago I was able to teach a dying man's sister he was Still In There even though he was in the midst of his final journey.
He was laying in his bed, comfortable, with his favorite blanket covering all but his head.
He was about 3 days into his transition process and his 94 year old twin sister was sitting quietly at his bedside.
When I came in the room, I told her I was sorry she was losing her brother. She said to me, " Oh it's OK, he has been gone for a long time already".
I knew trying to change her mind at 94 about her brothers cognitive ability was too involved and at this point that wouldn't help, so I chose to SHOW her what I knew to be true, " that her brother WAS STILL THERE" and right now he needed us to help him with this last transition.
I stood by his bedside, pulled back his covers to reach in and hold his hand, he had very little energy, but slowly squeezed my hand! I leaned in close to him and told him who I was and that his sister Ruby was right here with him also.
I told him how much we both loved him and that It was OK to go whenever he felt ready to let go! His eyelids fluttered and he opened his mouth, made little noises, and mouthed a faint "Thank You".
His sister was totally amazed at what she saw and with then took my place standing at the side of his bed. She reached into his blankets to hold his hand, and he squeezed ever so lightly. When I left the room, Ruby was talking to him and telling him over and over how much she loved him and not to be scared, that she would soon be with him again. He passed away a few hours later.
Ruby thanked me profusely for the gift I had given her, the "teaching moment" that allowed her to be with her brother, say the things she wanted to say and have the "privilege" of helping him with this final transition.
She would have never known this was possible!
This was certainly one of those amazing moments for me, personally, and something that I am choosing to share with others so they too can see the importance of teaching through modeling.
NEVER GIVE UP communicating with those with any type of dementia, even long after they are not able to communicate in our world. Learn to Read Non-Verbal Language, Validate the Whole Person Within, Love Unconditionally, and Be With Them In Their World and you will learn so much!
Judy Berry is the founder and CEO of Lakeview Ranch. Lakeview Ranch provides a unique model of specialized dementia care for those with aggressive behavior.
The model focuses on prevention, rather than treatment to manage behavior. Judy is also the Executive Director and founder of the Dementia Care Foundation. Judy Berry is a winner of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leaders Award.
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- Learning How to Communicate with Someone Suffering From Alzheimer's Disease
- Alzheimer's World -- Trying to Reconnect with Someone Suffering from Alzheimer's Disease
- Advice and Insight -- Alzheimer's Reading Room
- Dementia and the Eight Types of Dementia
- Does the Combination of Aricept and Namenda Help Slow the Rate of Decline in Alzheimer's Patients
Original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room