Ever wish life came with a remote control, a way to fast-forward through the bad bits and rewind to endlessly float in the sweet ones? Me, too.
The Rewind Button
The closest thing we have for the rewind is memory. When we flip through the files of our sweetest memories, we get to re-live the moment. We get to re-live the feelings. Savor the sounds and smells and sights. Re-enter the scene.
If we’re lucky, we emerge from a special memory and look over to see a co-star in that memory. A person we love who was there when the memory was made, still a part of our life.
And if we’re luckier still, our co-star shares the memory with us. We reminisce about the original experience, validating each other’s feelings and experience. You were so beautiful that night! your partner says.
Your brain hears, validates, re-experiences: The way you looked at me, I felt so beautiful! you respond.
Your parent recalls, I was so proud of you, of all you’d accomplished to that point!
It’s heard, validated, re-experienced: I could tell, in that moment we made eye contact. All the studying and sacrifice, it was worth it for that moment.
Communication is how we connect. When we love someone living with dementia, we need to communicate in a way they understand. Learn how in this free guide.
Feelings Just Are
Our shared experiences bond us together; when one of us loses the ability to participate in the “rewind,” it’s normal to feel cheated. We lose the validating experience of reliving the moment together.
You always have my encouragement to feel whatever you feel. Feelings just are; there is no right or wrong.
Equally, you don’t have to stay stuck in a wave of bad feelings. You know how it feels when you’re low. It’s remarkably easy to start adding ingredients to that spin cycle: irritable, agitated, angry, hurt, sad, scared, inconsolable.
What if you’d lost the ability to self-soothe, to talk yourself through a low moment? What if you’d lost the ability to come up with solutions to your problems, so you were stuck feeling low? You wouldn’t wish any of that on someone you love, right?
The Fast-Forward Button
This is where the fast-forward button on life’s remote comes in. I don’t know how to make it work for you, but I’ve got a pretty good idea how to deploy it for people living with dementia.
Mike at Together In This let me guest-blog for him again, and the result is 10 Dementia Care Tips to Prevent Early Evening Behavior Changes. (That’s Mike’s polite way of saying “Here’s how to stop ‘sundowning’ before it starts.”)
Not only do I give you 10 concrete tips, I also throw in two pro tips and one huge bonus tip (not to be confused with the one plain old bonus note within the post).
I think it’s worth checking out even if “sundowning” isn’t a concern for you. If you’re trying to figure out any kind of “behavior,” I feel pretty confident this will give you helpful insight. And if I’m right–if it does help you–could you please share it so someone else who needs help will see it? Thanks!
Christy Turner is a speaker and consultant, founder of DementiaSherpa.com, creator of the online program Memory Care at Home, and a regular guest on The Alzheimer’s Podcast. She’s enjoyed the privilege of working with over 1,200 people living with dementia and their families…including multiple experiences in her own family.