I received this email from a friend about a week ago and it sorts of reminds me of a newspaper headline I read in the newspaper last Saturday. The headline read, “A tidal waves of sadness: Dementia is striking more Singaporeans.” In that long special report, a couple spent a lifetime together but now ravaged by Alzheimer’s Disease, she can’t remember who he is. He, too, is slowly losing his mind. It was mentioned in the report that a particularly difficult aspect of dementia is the burden of care it imposes on loved ones.
Burden of care? Would you ever consider taking care of loved ones to be a burden? I certainly hope not. Taking care of loved ones is never a burden; it is love and responsibility. I do not deny there might be times when one will feel that way; this is normal as no one is perfect in this world – we are striving to be a better person but never perfect. There will be a time when taking care of loved ones is no longer a responsibility but out of unconditional love and giving.
Frankly speaking, I wouldn’t know if I will feel that way. I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t at this point of time when I have not gone through it. My mother and I had a few days of experience with my grandmother when we brought her home to stay with us for a few days. The first day was alright, she was happy. However, from the second day onwards, she started to miss home, was asking questions repetitively and was telling us to send her home the next day; she never stopped to worry about her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren at home. She did not sleep well at night and walked around the house in the dark. And we couldn’t sleep well too as we were worried about her; looking out for her and checking on the slightest sound to make sure she was alright.
The challenge of taking care of loved ones is real but it is never a burden. One really really needs to be very very patient. I am grateful for the experience that my grandmother gave to me; it made me realise how important unconditional love is. This also provides me an unique opportunity to prepare myself to love and to give unconditionally. Something from the story below, “True love is neither physical, nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.”
She Doesn’t Know Me, But I Still Know Who She Is
It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80′s, arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb.
He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am. I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would be able to see him.
I saw him looking at his watch, and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.
While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor’s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife.
I inquired as to her health; he told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late.
He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now.
I was surprised, and asked him, ‘And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are’? He smiled as he patted my hand and said, ‘She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is’.
I had to hold back tears as he left; I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought, ‘That is the kind of love I want in my life’. True love is neither physical, nor romantic.
True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.
With all the jokes and fun that are in e-mails, sometimes there is one that comes along that has an important message. This one I thought I could share with you.
The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.