Even though it's currently a brisk 12 degrees outside...I'm going to stand by the window for a minute and feel the beautiful sunshine on my face. I'm going to picture myself on my boat, on the lake and going to my cabin this summer. I am choosing a warmer place for my reality today, and from the looks of it, I will be choosing it for another 7-10 days. It reminds me of a story...
After an exercise group, I was bringing a resident to the dining room for lunch. I wheeled her up to her table and assisted her with putting on her clothing protector. She took her napkin, unfolded it and put it on her lap. I wished her a good lunch, and told her I would see her later that afternoon.
As I began to walk away, she asked me a question with a puzzled look. "Is the year 1969?" I didn't skip a beat with my response- "It most certainly is!" She paused, looked out the window and then continued with her next question. "We are at the lake home right?" I smiled at her and replied "That's right!" She let out a big sigh of relief as she confidently responded with a smile back, "I thought so!"
For reasons I will never know, her mind had wandered back almost 50 years ago. She would have been in her mid 30's...living in Minneapolis, happily married, raising her young children and loved going to her lake home up north. I know these details of her life having listened to her tell me about herself just a few years ago. Up until recently, her memories were vivid and accurate.
At that moment, she believed it was 1969 and she was about to enjoy a nice lunch at the lake. She was happy and content. Why would I want to risk upsetting her or cause her confusion by bringing her back to "reality?" I wanted her to stay in her happy place. As a caregiver, I would give anything to have all our residents be as happy as she was in that moment. In all my years experience working with dementia, I have never once regretted my approach in these situations- which is to "Just Go With It."
As I brought in another resident for lunch, I glanced over her way. She had her eyes tightly shut and was still smiling. The brilliant sunshine was beaming on her face through the window. In that moment, I hope that she was reliving all her wonderful memories at the lake. I hope that she was truly believing her reality, that she was still there...in her happy place.