The following record of a conversation between my mother and me is an example of how we learned to talk to each other when she was diagnosed with severe dementia and needing help with basic physical care and astute supervision. She lived a year after this event.
I learned not to try to correct everything she said and tried to make it fun. I recognize that all of this was possible because I was granted the gift of a friend who carried the heavy load of personal care for Mom.
I picture the following conversation as happening in the bathroom as she was getting her morning sponge bath. This particular morning as I was “routinely” getting Mom ready for the day she said, “I’ll be clean when I get to heaven.”
“Are you planning on going to heaven?”
“Yes, I’m going tonight.”
“Are you glad?”
“Yes, aren’t you?”
“Well, I’ll miss you.”
“I won’t miss you. I’ll be in heaven. I’ll see Daddy there.”
“Will you tell him I miss him.?”
“Well, I hope you have a nice trip.”
“Jesus will carry me in His arms.”
“Do you want to go naked or do you want to wear something?”
“I’ll go naked because I’ll get a beautiful robe when I get there.”
“Would you like to wear something down here so you won’t be so cold until Jesus gets here?”
“Yes, I think that would be a good idea.”
What have you learned from people with dementia? Can you identify the caregivers sent from God?