Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Shifting perspectives

Yesterday in our caregivers support group, Christina shared the perspective of her Philippine culture with regard to dementias. "We don't call it that. We call it second childhood." Another group member, Joanne, told a poignant story about her husband who lives with advanced Alzheimer's in a memory care facility. Last week, Santa came to visit the residents and brought a sack of stuffed toys. The residents lit up at the mere sight of him and received their dolls and teddy bears with the unbridled delight of young children. "Don accepted a teddy bear and drew it to his chest with both hands, rubbing his face on it and smiling with joy. We walked down the hall to his room and he lay down on his bed and cuddled it with all his might. It was deeply moving."

Though the notion of viewing Alzheimer's as a second childhood is indeed controversial, there is certainly wisdom in thinking creatively about how to best meet the complex needs of those who live with the disease. As for my mother, she seems to find a measure of joy in a familiar face and in spending time with those who hold her dear. Hair brushing, soothing arm tickling, singing, holding hands, eye contact, offering soft kisses, and drinking a milkshake through a colorful straw- these are the things that seem to bring her joy.

Shared moments of pleasure made manifest through the simple act of slowing down, sharing time together and of bearing witness to the grace that arises. I'd wager it's a tried and true recipe of joy for us all. Milkshake anyone?


  1. I loved these last two posts. You're my hero. Let me know when we can meet over milkshakes.



  2. You're an amazing human being Jenny Sinanan. Oh, and chocolate please !!!!!

  3. I love you mom. You really are something.

  4. Chocolate or Vanilla? Mom says Chocolate!