Alzheimer’s – The Sadness & The Joy Are Both Part Of The Package

  Hi Everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a personal piece about my journey with my Mother with you.  Since the holidays are upon us, I felt it was important to share with each of you this very precious woman I am lucky enough to call Mom.  This woman so many refer to living in a “A shell of a body.”  I chose to look for the pearl with the shell…her soul which continues to shine brightly although not as consistently as it used to.

People ask me all the time “How do you interact with your Mom when she is in her end stages and can’t communicate?”  So below are two videos, that capture just how I interact with my Mom when she is despondent and when she is connecting.  The first video was taken Thanksgiving morning of this year, 2011.  The second was taken today just two weeks later.  The difference between the two you may find incredible, and that is exactly what I wish for you to see.

What I hope you will learn from these two videos is not to give up or walk away from a person with memory loss.  They like us have their good days and bad, but unlike us, they are no longer able to hide the truth of what their days are like.

I am a firm believer in the Ying and the Yang effect.  That we can’t feel true joy without feeling the depths of despair.  So the first video we take you down as both my daughter Danielle and I try to connect with my Mom who exhibits few visible signs of connection.  On this day in this moment, Mom appears to have retreated into that shell of a body that takes her captive some days, yet we don’t give up trying to engage her.  Nor do we let ourselves get frustrated, as we no longer pre-judged what the moment should look like.  It just is a moment in time.  One which we realize we are lucky enough to have to begin with, and two knowing we have the opportunity for more moments in the future.

The second video, the one from today will show you the joy of connection and the silly moments I embrace.  The gift of freedom to play again as an adult and not worry what others think… my voice in particular on this video will send this point home. Prior I would never sing in public as I know I sing off-key. May you each embrace the lesson wrapped in these videos as Danielle and I have learned to do.





The Lesson:

Once you allow yourself to feel the emotions tied to unwanted circumstances, you than can become strong enough to move through them and embrace the joy before you that you previously overlooked.

8 Replies to “Alzheimer’s – The Sadness & The Joy Are Both Part Of The Package”

  1. Thank you so much for uploading the contrasting clips. It is so true what you say about taking one day at a time and being grateful for the small moments.

  2. As time went by, I learned to stop fighting the disease cause it was winning any way (sadly) and to cherish any little moment I could. If she smiled when I gave her chocolate – it was one in the win column. If she held my hand – even though I knew it probably was just a reflex – I chose to look at it as mom really was holding my hand.

  3. Lori,
    Thanks for sharing. The holidays can be tough time for with our loved ones with Alzheimer’s. It’s easy to just look back on how things used to be “before Alzheimer’s” and wishing that things were different. But you got it so right–it’s all about finding the connection and being in the present moment with them, and not giving up in trying to reach them–through a song (btw I think you have a great voice:), holding her hand, looking at photos etc. Like you, I saw my mom on Thanksgiving with my kids. We were blessed with a “great day”. She was alert, engaged, and laughing for a while. Priceless gifts. On many other occasions, it’s been harder to connect and reach her, so I’ve learned to savor the priceless moments when I find them with her, and just take one day at a time.

    Blessing to you and your family this holiday season.

    Kerry Luksic
    Author, Life Lessons from a Baker’s Dozen: 1 Mother, 13 Children, and their Journey to Peace with Alzheimer’s

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