Updated: Apr 25, 2019
My grandmother is living with late stage Alzheimer's Disease. I know that many of you experience this in your own families and I wanted to write a little something that can be difficult to talk about.
With the disease, the forms of communication that we all take for granted which connect us - chatting, recalling memories, reading - are lost and so finding new ways to connect with each other becomes so important.
As the disease progresses, often those close to us no longer recognise who we are. In the beginning this can bring feelings of frustration for PLWD (People Living With Dementia), often showing itself in behaviour that is uncharacteristic of them including aggression, which can be their way of trying to communicate, borne of this frustration. This often causes feelings of hurt for the family, when they are no longer remembered and are treated very differently.
The Power Of Touch
Touch can go a long way in maintaining a heartfelt connection. It is important to approach in a gentle manner respecting boundaries - ensuring it is willingly agreed and accepted is essential. Small things like massaging my grandmother's feet, face or hands, filing and painting her nails and combing her hair become new ways to connect, for my heart to reach out to hers. When she doesn't remember me I can see that sometimes she feels that she is either in the company of a stranger or with someone who she feels she has met before but cannot remember if she considered me friend or foe. The most important thing is that she feels I am non-threatening and that she is able to feel comfortable, safe and secure when she is in my company.
Holistic Helping Hands
One of the holistic treatments my grandmother enjoys the most is Crystal Therapy. The stones are pretty, she likes their colours and how they feel in her hands. This is often one of the few things in short term memory that she can remember, which I believe in large part is due to her recall being strongly associated to a sensory experience with crystals that connected with her emotionally.
For an hour she can drift and dream and sleep and snore, in a world where she is both here but also somewhere else, somewhere she can let go of any worries she has that she is not fulfilling expectations that she has of herself or that others have of her. She doesn't experience the fear, anxiety and frustration she feels when she can't remember. She is no longer a victim of her condition. She is able to just be. She is her.
Much love to you and yours,
Copyright © Andrea Doran, Flourish and Contributors - Original Date of Publication August 2018 | For personal use and information only