Looking for Diamonds in Dementia

During the worst of my father’s dementia, I longed for an easier, less stressful existence. There were many times I wanted to turn my back on the situation, but I was committed to him and his well-being, so walking away was not an option.

A story called “Acres of Diamonds” helped me through some of those tough times. In the story, a hard-working farmer, wishing for a leisurely life of riches, sold his farm so he could to go out and search for a diamond mine. The guy who bought the farm discovered that his newly-purchased land happened to contain one of the richest diamond mines on the continent. Without realizing it, the first man had owned acres of diamonds and walked away from riches beyond his imagination.

With that in mind, I constantly looked for and found diamonds in my dad’s dementia. Here are just a few.

• His illness opened doors for me to reconnect with relatives and family friends I hadn’t seen in years. Some the most meaningful support and encouragement I got during that time came from those people.

• Dad had always been busy working and had never told me much about his childhood. The forced slow-down of his illness created an opportunity for me to enjoy extended, one-on-one time with him when he could share those stories.

• In public situations when Dad’s testy behaviors could have caused people to react with annoyance or impatience, I was surprised by their compassion and willingness to help. Again and again, I was humbled and deeply touched by the kindness of strangers.

My challenge to you: Whatever difficulty you may be experiencing, look around and see what diamonds you can find right where you are.