daughter, spouse, grandson, friend, son, aunt, neighbor, caregiver, wife, parent, uncle, relative, grandmother, husband, cousin, granddaughter
Back to Blog
Something has shifted with my dad. Maybe it’s the change in medication or perhaps he’s just gotten used to his “new normal” and accepted the vascular dementia and his declining health. Whatever the reason, the shift is good. He and I both look forward to our Wednesdays together. It’s a routine our family established almost two years ago, after dad had a stroke, to give my parents a break from each other for the day. The demands of full-time care-giving and loss of independence has been an adjustment for all of us. And now, dad is more expressive about it.
The Shift that I’m referring to is most obvious in our communication. Dad is chattier now and initiating conversation, to the point of sharing secrets. Since the dementia affects random parts of his short-term memory, most of our time is spent reminiscing. Two weeks ago, he surprised me by telling the stories I had not heard, the stories that parents have from their teenage years that they don’t generally share with their kids. Just as he was getting to the good part, my mom walked in. He turned to me and quietly said, “to be continued…”.
I must admit I was disappointed because he might not remember the story the following week. I was delighted when he did. The following week, I prompted him about the previous conversation and he picked up where we left off. Then he asked to hear my stories. What story do I tell? He’s known me my entire life and since I’m a “rule-follower”, I don’t have anything interesting to offer back. Not true. The reality is, most of us don’t really know each other. We spend the majority of our time being busy in the midst of each other’s presence but how often do we really share what we’re thinking and feeling? It’s different with a senior.
Seniors, in general, have much more time on their hands, they genuinely enjoy sharing stories (and perhaps secrets!), and they did not grow up in an electronic society where information moves so quickly. They are less concerned about “doing” and more focused on “being”. Slowing down and spending a few hours with an elderly person will, in most cases, be a rich blessing to you both. Spending time with them on a regular basis will change your life in positive ways you can’t yet understand.