June is June, No Matter the Year
by Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA
Early in May, I received an e-mail from a friend in North Carolina. Kim had a story she thought people involved in dementia support and care should hear. She put me in touch with Jane. Jane shared her story with me and I too believe this is a story well worth telling and sharing.
For many people, going with the flow of someone’s inability to hold onto current place and time is simply a matter of responding with a phrase or supportive comment. For Jane and her faith community, it involved much, much more.
Raymond, Jane’s husband, got lost in his life. Rather than trying to help him remember what he had lost, this amazing group of people helped him celebrate an important event anew! Great new memories with activities, music, people, pictures, and relationships to fill in those empty spaces. This is truly an example of learning to live well and inclusively with dementia! Thanks so much for sharing!
Marry Me… Again, Please
My name is Jane and I am a caregiver for my husband Raymond who has dementia. We will be married 45 years on September 6, 2019. Raymond could not remember us getting married, so he asked me if I would marry him. So naturally, I said yes. He kept it on his mind for a few weeks and would ask me to marry him over and over and then he said “when are we getting married?” I talked to our Pastor and told him what Raymond wanted to do. Then, Raymond asked our Pastor to marry us. Of course, he said yes. So, we decided we would renew our wedding vows on March 31. But to Raymond, it was getting married for the first time.
We sent out invitations with the headline of Loved you then, Love you still, Always have, Always will. He could remember where we met but not us getting married. He knew that we met at Crossroads Music Park in Kings Mountain, which was in 1972. But to him it was just recently. He would tell people that we have been dating for about 15 years. So, on March 31st we got married. Raymond was so excited. Our Pastor devoted the 11am service for our wedding vows with the rings exchanged, followed by The Lords Supper.
Our church family was so good to us. They gave us a surprise luncheon/reception after the wedding. They went all out; the fellowship hall was decorated beautifully. Everything was like a real wedding reception; we even had a cake to cut. Pictures were taken in the church and at the reception. Still, Raymond was so excited. We left after the reception for our honeymoon to Pigeon Forge, TN. We were gifted a 3 day stay in Pigeon Forge. After we arrived in Pigeon Forge, Raymond would tell the waitresses at the restaurants and other places that we just got married. He has been so attentive since the wedding, worrying about my every move. When we returned home, a dear friend gave Raymond a photo book of the wedding and reception and he showed it to everybody. He wanted me to carry it in my pocketbook so he could show it everywhere we went. I believe that if they get something on their mind and you can accommodate it, do so. Take it one day at a time and go with it. Caregiving is not an easy task, but you can do it with the right mindset. I know things will get worse, but I will be by his side all the way. Let your church family walk with you on this journey.