“Precious memories, how they linger, How they ever flood my soul. In the stillness, of the midnight, how the sacred scenes unfold.” Our lives are lived through our stories and memories. The tragedy of any form of dementia is the tinkering, tampering and erasing of our precious memories. Everyone exhibits different behaviors. Try not to put them on the spot to answer “test” questions. Help them keep their dignity. Some people lose themselves and become a different person in speech, manners or emotions. Others step deeper into their memories, reliving their good old days.
“Precious father, loving mother, fly across the lonely years; and old home scenes of my childhood in fond memory appear.” How do you talk with someone whose memories have been mixed up or hidden away? They may want to hold a conversation with you, but the pressure on both sides can be very frustrating. We have all learned the art of small talk (how are you, what’s new, how are you feeling). Some do not know how to respond any more. It is okay. Ask simple yes or no questions to see if that helps: Are you comfortable? Do you want anything? Are you thirsty? Can I pray with you?
“As I travel on life’s pathway, know not what the years may hold; as I ponder, hope grows fonder, Precious memories flood my soul.” Sometimes people retreat deeper and deeper into themselves. It can be part of the process. As they go, what they need to hear the most is that they are loved. A good way to demonstrate this is to talk about your life, tell your everyday stories, and bring some pictures to show them. Don’t worry them with trying to remember these people. Let them see your love and hear your voice. Listen with them to songs of faith. It will bring healing and release to both of you.
“Precious memories, unseen angels, sent from somewhere to my soul. How they linger, ever near me, and the sacred past unfold.” Acknowledge your own grief; it is very real and sad. Know also that God is with them, however far away from you they may go. Always remember God’s promise to you and to them: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Share your precious memories. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.