Oct 31, 2015

Help Me See The Roses

"The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious of the rose." - Kahlil Gibran

Alzheimer's love is different for each person | Alzheimer's Reading Room

By Marie Marley
Alzheimer's Reading Room

John is distraught when he visits his wife, Jean. First of all, he finds the facility per se depressing.

While walking to his wife’s room, he passes several residents sitting in wheel chairs. Most are either staring into space or else their heads are hanging down and they appear to be dozing. What a waste of human life, he thinks.

Worse still is his wife’s condition. She can’t bathe or dress herself. She needs help eating. She carries a baby doll around with her everywhere she goes. She acts as though it’s a real baby. He has tried and tried to convince her it’s just a doll, and he’s tried to get her to give it up. All to no avail. John sees only thorns everywhere he looks.

Come Back Early Today A Memoir of Alzheimer's Care

Jill is another regular visitor to the facility. Her mother, the past president of a major university, is in a wheel chair and can often be found playing Bingo, which she can’t play unless one of the aids helps her. Her mother’s other favorite activity is the sing-alongs held every Tuesday and Thursday. Most days she doesn’t even recognize Jill.

Jill’s reaction to the situation, however, is very different from that of John. Sometimes Jill arrives during the Bingo game and sits beside her mother as she’s playing. Instead of thinking how much her mother’s mental capacity has declined, she notes that her mother has a smile on her face. Jill is so happy that there are still things her mother enjoys.

Although her mother usually doesn’t recognize her, it’s obvious that she enjoys Jill’s visits. As far as the diapers her mother wears, Jill isn’t upset by them. All babies wear them and that isn’t depressing to anyone.

To a great extent, our attitudes about long-term care facilities and people with dementia influence how we view them.

We must look at the roses and let the thorns pass into the background.

If we are in denial and try to insist that our love one talk and behave like a ‘normal’ person, we will be miserable every time we see the person.

If we focus on what our loved one can’t do rather than what he or she still can do, visiting will be painful. If we focus on the thorns instead of the roses our distress will know no end.

Related Content

 What is the Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia 

Test Your Memory for Alzheimer's (5 Best Tests) 

Communicating in Alzheimer's World 

Alzheimer's, Your Brain, and Adaptability 

The Seven Stages of Alzheimer's

Marie Marley is the award-winning author of the uplifting book, Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer’s and Joy. Her website (ComeBackEarlyToday.com) contains a wealth of information for Alzheimer’s caregivers. She is also the co-author (with Daniel C. Potts, MD, FAAN) of the forthcoming book, “Finding Joy in Alzheimer’s: New Hope for Caregivers.’

You are reading original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room