Love comes in so many magical guises. My journey with people who have Alzheimer’s has expanded and deepened my understanding of love. Here are some insights from others.
My friend Vicki always inspires and teaches me. She has early onset Alzheimer’s and her outlook is an embodiment of grace and spirit. She writes: “I have lost both friends and family members since I have dementia. Some people are just so uncomfortable that they just cannot bear to see me go down hill. I have lost a very good friend who just can’t seem to handle it. I know that these people love me but they do not have the emotional fortitude to see the daily loss. You will find out who really loves you when you get dementia because these are the people who will be there for you when you need them.” — Vicki Stoecklin, Kansas City, Mo, retired designer
The True Meaning of Unconditional Love
Linda Fisher is a tireless advocate and a caring person. Her words really move me. “Caring for my husband Jim taught me the true meaning of unconditional love. I became fiercely protective of him and learned to love him ‘as is’ without looking back on the man he had been or forward to the man he would become. My love for him continued to grow throughout the ten years of his dementia, as he became dependent on me to be his advocate in all aspects.” — Linda Fisher, Sedalia, Mo, retired office manager, Central Missouri Electric Coop http://earlyonset.blogspot.com Early Onset Alzheimer’s: My Recollections, Our Memories (2012)
The Full Range of Emotions
Kelly Sheet, founder of the SpunkyCaregiver, offered these deep insights: “I have learned that love transcends any words and appearances. When someone has dementia, love is shared through energy and feeling. You can be vulnerable with people who are living with dementia. And it is a relief to be so open. Day-to-day we are expending energy to protect ourselves from saying too much or too little or the wrong thing. The great gift of loving people with dementia is that you can let go of those ideas, experiment with what a full range of emotions actually feels like. Without being judged, you can laugh spontaneously at some goofy moment, dance with abandon or hold hands with a stranger. Loving people with dementia helps me to feel alive. The hundreds of seniors I have known over the years have really taught me how to love more freely.” — Kelly Sheets, Founder, Sisters, Or, www.TheSpunkyCaregiver.com,
Every person teaches us more about love.
Deborah is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.