When someone has dementia or any serious illness, there’s a tendency to avoid him – not because we don’t care but because we don’t know what to say. We’re afraid we might make it worse by saying or doing the wrong thing.
It’s true that it can be a guessing game anticipating how a person with dementia will respond to you or how he’ll interpret what you say. But don’t let fear stop you from sharing your concern and affection. If your effort isn’t well received, you can try something different next time.
I’ve seen this poem on several websites but haven’t been able to discover who wrote it; the credit always just says “Author unknown.”
Do not ask me to remember.
Don’t try to make me understand.
Let me rest and know you’re with me.
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
I’m confused beyond your concept.
I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you.
To be with me at all cost.
Do not lose your patience with me.
Do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I’m acting.
Can’t be different ‘though I try.
Just remember that I need you,
That the best part of me is gone.
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me ’til my life is done.
– Author unknown
Beautiful, isn’t it!
But even with this in mind, the question remains: What do you say?
It’s awkward and uncomfortable. How do you get past that?
I used to spend a few minutes praying in my car before going in to visit my dad. I’d say something like:
“Lord, I don’t want to go in there. This is hard. I don’t know what to do or what to say. I need your help. Give me patience. Let your loving kindness and your words flow through me. Give me strength to do the right thing.”
For me, prayer is always a good place to start. I’m curious though; how do you get past that fear and awkwardness so you can “be there” for the people you care about? What helps and inspires you in those emotionally difficult situations?