Beyond Language — Communicating through Dementia

Summer’s beauty has reached its peak. The butterflies are back but Mom can’t see them now. I think of driving her to the beach so she can smell the ocean one more time. But routine is her great comfort, so a trip might be too much. I must look for new ways to communicate the joys of summer before they vanish.

Mom’s vision is almost gone, but she still perceives color. I take her to a garden where giant scarlet blooms wave down at her. She loves these flowers so I pull the branches close to her hands. Her language skills are weak but she still knows enough words to tell me they are pretty.

With the blindness advancing, her sense of hearing seems more acute. Birds in this garden are always bickering. The crows want a bigger share of everything and the sparrows always feel slighted. While they complain about each other, I whistle back. Mom laughs when they mock me and go on with their argument.

Walking was easy for her even as the disease advanced. But now her gait is  wobbly and I must steady her all the time. Even in this state, she loves the slow stroll from tree to tree and the blurry sight of clouds that fray to let the blue sky through. After circling the path a few times, she sits down.

This kind of simple sensory stimulation seems to help her. But the best way to break dementia’s communication barrier is by offering her a bit of summer on a fork. It’s pink and juicy and carries the seeds of picnic memories. A smile breaks across her face and I know she is happy in this moment. Nothing summarizes summer like the sweet taste of watermelon.

One Response to Beyond Language — Communicating through Dementia

  1. Thank you for this valuable post. It changed my attitude

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