Measuring Thankfulness While Facing Dementia

Though I try to focus on the bright side of life, this time of year shakes me up. The coming holidays always remind me of past celebrations and what my mom brought to them. I suppose this is a normal response to the passage of time. But when you care for someone with dementia, it’s hard to resist the temptation to measure what’s been lost in a year.

It’s just plain sad to look back and recall how much more mom could do in 2011. Even then, we felt her changing and tried to respond to her needs in the best possible way. We had a turkey dinner in a restaurant to reduce my caregiver stress. That would be impossible this year. Eating is just too much of a challenge for her now. In 2011, we drove miles to visit family members. Now long trips in the car would be hard on everyone, and much less fun for her.

We also have to stop measuring what we’ve lost, because there is more loss coming our way as the waterfall of time spills forward. So I’m making a mental list of what we can cherish while she is still here with her earthly family.

1) Mom still smiles and laughs — we don’t always know what she’s laughing about but there is still a cheerful spirit in there. For that we are very grateful!

2) She is eager to express love for us — we have been blessed in near magical ways by the unconditional love she transmits through her embrace.

3) Though she finds it more difficult to walk now, she will still dance when we put on Chubby Checker — how does her brain create this miracle?

It will be a strange Thanksgiving: not one where she commands us in the kitchen or snuggles on the couch to eat pie. But she’s still here, and we love her deeply. Hope you are all able to celebrate the same!


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