I Still Do

December 20, 2009

Gifts for a shrinking world

Filed under: Alzheimer's Disease, alzheimer's, caregiver, Uncategorized — Judith Fox @ 4:40 pm

It’s sad when celebrations and special days lose their meaning.   Ed’s birthday is on November 29—my family and I always combined our Thanksgiving dinner with a birthday celebration for Ed.  It was part of our ritual and we always looked forward to our own tradition of carrot cake and candles at the end of our Thanksgiving dinner.  When our grandchildren were younger, they made birthday cards for Ed and bought him traditional birthday hats which he always wore for them.   

This year, Ed and I had a traditional Thanksgiving meal at the facility in which he now lives.  Surrounded by other caregivers and people with AD.   On his birthday, I brought the celebration to the facility; Ed enjoyed the sweets but he didn’t care that it was his birthday.  

This Christmas, one of Ed’s daughters sent him a twelve inch Christmas tree, thinking he might like to put it on his dresser.  It was sweet and thoughtful to send him this reminder of Christmas, but he doesn’t recognize the tree because of his visual agnosia (his brain doesn’t properly interpret what his eyes see).   At the facility, trees are decorated and hung with ornaments; it means something to the staff and visitors, perhaps, but nothing to Ed (and I haven’t seen evidence that it has meaning for other residents.)

So, as Ed’s world continues to grow smaller, what is important to him?  What gifts does he want?  It’s simple, really, he wants someone to talk to him; someone to understand what he’s feeling; someone to hold his hand; and someone to let him know he’s still important and loved.  Basically, what’s important to him is important to all of us.

I wish you many moments of joy during this holiday season and in the new year.  And I wish you the gift of love.

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