This year’s Dementia Awareness Week started in England and Wales on July 4th.
Some might ask what could be joyful about living with or caring for someone with dementia?
Despite the sad prognosis of this condition, if you are able to pay close attention there are moments of joy to be experienced and cherished. The Alzheimer’s Society is urging people to remember the person! This means many different things to different people, and changes with time and as dementia progresses. What moments of joy do I remember of my mother’s journey with dementia? Right now, it is the memory of sitting with her during her final days holding her hand whilst she listened to her favourite music; a few weeks before that filing her nails as an act of love; or doing her hair ‘properly’ for her, just as she would have done for herself before she no longer worried about her appearance. It really was a joy to see her enjoying her music long after she had lost the means to communicate with us verbally – music really can reach people in ways that words alone sometimes simply cannot.
I was reminded of this on Sunday morning listening to the radio in the car when Orange Roses was played. Rebecca Hollweg’s haunting voice full of emotion conveyed what it means to visit our loved ones with dementia, in her case her grandmother, with the pledge that ‘I will bring you orange roses, though you may not know my name’; orange roses being her grandmother’s favourite flower.
So it got me thinking, what are the ‘orange roses’ for others in our lives? Could we share those things with others today, in this moment?