There are so many special moments that I cherish from my work with individuals and families living with dementia, and today has added to these moments.
I visited a couple, and their amazing daughter, who I have known for nearly ten years. Her Mum has advanced Alzheimer’s and her father has moderate Vascular Dementia. They are now together in residential care, and have been settled there for a couple of years. When I first met them at their flat, they were living relatively independently, with support from family. Things deteriorated slowly, and we organised increasing levels of support in the home. The difficulty peaked when Dad stated he felt suicidal because he couldn’t manage at home and couldn’t understand Mum’s changing behaviours and moods. At this point, we managed to find a care placement and they have settled fairly well. There have been hiccups along the way with physical health problems, and most recently, Mum had a fall and since then, has deteriorated greatly over the past couple of weeks – limited communication, fear and resistance on care intervention, and quite sleepy a lot if the time.
When I saw then today, Mum was quite tired. She did acknowledge me and held my hand, but didn’t open her eyes. The magic happened when Dad joined us. He wanted to sing (firstly, he wanted us to sing with him!), and he began singing a song from a musical. His eyes sparkled and he became animated, acting out the story of the song. Mum, on hearing his voice, began whispering the lyrics too, and at the end said how beautiful it was. There were smiles between them, holding hands, telling each other “I love you”. So much happiness in those few moments, so much warmth and love. And seeing the joy on their daughter’s face, seeing her parents’ joy. Magic.