As family and friends of someone with dementia sometimes the simplest of actions bring the greatest amount of joy. All of the programs and certifications regarding dementia serve a purpose and are greatly needed, but what is also needed is human interaction, time spent with another person. When my grandmother was in the mid-stages of Vascular Dementia she would have benefited from some of these programs, but at the time they were not available or known to us, but what was available was our time together. I have memories of my dad during his visits on Sundays bringing some type of baked good that they would enjoy together. It was simple, inexpensive, but it was taking a piece of her past (her love of baking and sharing food with family) and bringing it into her present. It was simple but brought a great amount of joy. Similarly, when I would visit, during the hour to two hours I spent with her, we would just look outside, or watch a movie on TV, there were days when we wouldn’t say much but we spent time together bringing pieces of our time before dementia into our time now.
There is a fear I often hear about from family members and friends of those with dementia, that they don’t know how to spend time with that person anymore, they don’t know how to communicate. There are training programs and certificates for that as well, but what I have often shared with them, is that one of the best ways to spend time with them is to do just that, spend time with them eating an ice cream cone, sharing a cream soda or cup of tea, or splitting a beer (if okay with current meds), watching a movie, listen to music, anything that may be a part of their past joys. The things we find joy in do not leave us the moment dementia enters our lives, it just shifts. Learn to sit in the silence with that person, enjoying each other’s company. That simple act will bring great memories and joy to their day. Speaking from my experience, once they are gone it is what you will remember far more than anything else you might do together during this time. So as I share programs and introduce you to training opportunities always remember that this exists, the simple joys of sitting with the ones we love.