I recently had the pleasure of attending a "Date Night" at Arden Courts Memory Care Assisted Living. The staff at Arden Courts recognizes the importance of including loved ones in socialization and activities. In addition to planned weekly outings for residents, who are able to travel out for lunch, the staff plans special events and "date nights."

My date was a lovely 90-year-old woman who beams when I show up at "dinner and a show" night. She is still able to find joy in dinner, dessert and the musical entertainment. Although the musical journey through the 1940s, '50s, '60s and forward wasn't her cup of tea and she joked that it wasn't exactly classical, which she prefers, she was able to enjoy the evening and time together.

Advertisement

At one point she rolled her eyes and with a teasing smile and asked, "are you enjoying this?" When I replied "yes"! She shed her reservation, laughed and got into the spirit of the evening.

As I sat at a table with other residents and family members I looked around the room to see husbands and wives who are separated by a terrible disease process causing dementia. I also witnessed joy, love and genuine feeling that could not be stolen from these couples. I watched as these couples sang the words to the songs to one another while looking into each other's eyes.

This may sound trivial, however, all of these couples had a partner affected by a disease which steals their recent memories and perhaps even has taken some or many of their oldest, most cherished memories and abilities. Nonetheless in that bit of time the music sets them free from what limits them and allows them to sing to their spouse, dance and share tender moments. I watched as a couple sat next to one another as the husband tenderly rubbed his wife's back.

Everyone had a wonderful time. As the evening wound down and the residents began to return to their rooms and spouses got ready to return to their lives at home without their loved one, I was reminded of the moments of joy in which we were all able to share. I was truly inspired and humbled by these families and staff finding joy and giving joy to these residents.

I was reminded of "The Alzheimer's Patient Prayer" by Carolyn Haynali.

Pray for me I was once like you.

Be kind and loving to me that's how I would have treated you.

Remember I was once someone's parent or spouse I had a life and a

dream for the future.

Speak to me, I can hear you even if I don't understand

what you are saying. Speak to me of things in my past of

which I can still relate.

Be considerate of me, my days are such a struggle.

Think of my feelings because I still have them and can feel pain.

Advertisement

Treat me with respect because I would have treated you that way.

Think of how I was before I got Alzheimer's; I was full of life,

I had a life, laughed and loved you.

Think of how I am now, My disease distorts my thinking, my

feelings, and my ability to respond, but I still love you even if I can't tell you.

Think about my future because I used to.

Remember I was full of hope for the future just like you are now.

Think how it would be to have things locked in your mind and

can't let them out. I need you to understand and not blame me,

but Alzheimer's.

I still need the compassion and the touching and most of all I

still need you to love me.

Keep me in your prayers because I am between life and death.

The love you give will be a blessing from God and both of us will

live forever.

How you live and what you do today will always be remembered

in the heart of the Alzheimer's Patient.

It is so important to understand dementia and remind ourselves that those affected by dementia can still find and appreciate these moments of joy.

Jill Rosner is a registered nurse, certified geriatric care manager and owner of Rosner Healthcare Navigation. She provides patient advocacy and care management services to clients with health and aging issues. Contact her at JillRosnerRN@aol.com.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement