Stories of Life Before Dementia

It’s an hour and a half past my usual bed time (and now several days later).  I have been trying to sleep but all these thoughts are running through my head, so here I am working on putting some of those thoughts into words and then my brain will be quiet and rest.

I plan to visit a facility here in Bozeman tomorrow to chat with the Director about my hanging out and visiting with the residents so I can begin to get acquainted with them.  I have noticed, with the group of folks where mom lives, that within the first 2 weeks, of my visiting, I would walk in and their faces would light up.  I could feel them watch me walk around the room while I am greeting some or saying good morning to a small group.  They wait quietly for me to maybe head in their direction so they can reach out to hold my hand.  It feels so good and warms my soul.

My plan for the Bozeman Dementia Care Facility, is to learn about individual personalities and to listen to stories of their lives.  Often times the stories are broken into bits and pieces and it takes a good deal of time to piece it all together. But because I want to know, they will begin to want to tell me the story of who they are.  A listening ear is easy and it gives their life just a little bit of meaning and a little bit of light.  Plus, it will help us all to remember that these folks are still the person they used to be.

My stories will begin with the folks at mom’s facility.  Tonight I’m thinking about Sally, mom’s roommate, I am pondering descriptive words that describe who she is; shy, rambunctious, a playful teaser, lonely…..when I got to the word lonely I suddenly saw every face I have watched and visited with over the last 6 weeks.

Even though loneliness is a part of their lives I need to also remember that loneliness is a part of every persons life.  So my direction will be on the positive, the functional, the diverse personalities, the capabilities, the giving, the caring and all the other wonderful aspects of human beings and our higher path of life, which we all partake in.  It is a necessity.  And some of what I have experienced, while in Seattle,surprised me in not only a good way but in a way that challenged my thinking of what dementia is.

That is the direction I will go when I write and share the stories about the lives of folks who live only in memories of the past.  The past is important to them because they are no longer able to live in  the present.  The stories, of their lives, are the stories I want to tell.  Those are stories of who they are and who they continue to be.

Now I need to stop talking about the stories and start writing them!

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