I was talking with someone recently about the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. Her father is in memory care with a type of Dementia. As we shared our plans, I began explaining the variety of fun things I had planned for Jack for the holiday celebration. She stopped me and asked “Why are you doing that?” What she said next is where my perspective of Dementia differs from that of some other people I have met.
“He’s not going to remember it five minutes after you give it to him.”
May I invite you into a different perspective? Radical presence is focusing completely on exactly what is going on in this instant. One of its great gifts is our opportunity to fully experience what is happening. For those with a type of Dementia it is their experience in this instant. For those of us who are friends, family or are in care support roles, it is the memory it creates. I know Jack won’t remember the special card I made him five minutes after he’s opened it. I do know his face will light up in the moment when he sees it.
Remember when you opened a gift and found something you really wanted? I’ll bet there are videos of your face lighting up and showing how excited you were in that instant. This is the greatest mutual gift of a gift – the positive reaction in the moment both for the person receiving the gift and for the person giving the gift.
I don’t do loving things for Jack in hopes he’ll remember them five minutes later. I do them because, in the instant, it brings him joy and, in the same instant, it brings me joy.
The next time you consider visiting someone or doing something special – whether they have memory challenges or not – please do. They will be glad you did, and hopefully you will be too!