Ivy Joy & Papa One of the sweetest treasures I’ve found lately is spending time with my dad. Daddy is 90 years old and experiencing a form of dementia. I find joy just by hearing him say my name when he sees me. Seeing him, hearing his voice, watching him smile, and being near him means a lot to me.
My two-year-old granddaughter mesmerized him with her antics on a recent visit. He likes to wear hats. Little Grand saw his hat on a table, picked it up, and pranced around with the hat on her head. She would walk up to him where he sat in his rocker and talk to him. He watched her as she moved around the room, patted her on her hand or arm when she came up close chatting to him. I took pictures and videoed every little action and reaction between Little Grand and her Great-Papa, wanting to keep those special moments close to me for a lifetime.
After we visited Daddy when Little Grand was having fun with the hat, we all went to a cafeteria to eat lunch with my sister-in-law and niece with her children. While my niece’s children sat still at the table during lunch, my granddaughter (who had eaten too many Vanilla Wafers on the trip to see my family) was extremely hyper. She wouldn’t sit still for much more than five minutes at a time. At one point, my dad looked at me and slowly said (as if he was trying to choose his words carefully), “I don’t think you need to bring any more babies to the cafe.”
Every joy with a parent that has dementia means everything. My daddy is a preacher and has been since before I was born. His stories often get somewhat mixed up now when we talk, but that’s okay. I still want to hear them. They make sense to me because I understand that he’s remembering parts from different phases of his life, mixing them together.
The last conversation with Daddy was about church. He had just been to church, and our family friend who helps to care for my dad said that my brother (now the pastor of the church my dad pastored since 1969) had Daddy come up to the platform for a few minutes to speak. He still has that same enthusiasm he had when he was preaching and was sharing his excitement with me about a church being ready for revival.
Dementia is disheartening to the loved ones of the family members of the one who has been diagnosed with the condition. It’s hard for the one who has it. My dad recognized that things were not the same for him in the beginning. He would talk to me about it, expressing his frustration. It seems to be kind of like a dream (more like a nightmare) when places, people, and things get all mixed up. It would be a miraculous joy for people with loved ones who have dementia if it was a dream and they could wake up out of it.
According to what I’ve read about dementia, it has various cognitive levels and includes impaired thinking and memory abilities. It is different than Alzheimer’s which can cause dementia. My grandfather had it, but back then we were told his condition was hardening of the arteries.
If you are a family member or caregiver of a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s, join a support group and/or obtain information to help you deal it. There are different forms of dementia which can be confused with Alzheimer’s. Should you feel that writing about your Alzheimer’s or dementia story, there is a website you can contact. You’re also welcome to share experiences or daily joys you have found (or have missed) with me in the reply section on this blog page.