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    I remember it like it was yesterday.

A fellow caregiver was commenting that she was finally coming into acceptance of her husband’s recent dementia diagnosis, and as is usually the case she received dozens of supportive replies from people who knew exactly how she was feeling.  One warm, caring spouse said this: “it’s part of loving them to walk the road with them.”  Wow, I thought?  Where is that written?  Is that implied in the “for better or worse” part?  Back then I was still in the camp of I just want to be a good spouse … child … sibling … parent … but not the caregiver.

Accepting the walk was one thing; embracing it in love seemed to be quite another!

But isn’t that exactly the very definition of compassion?

Henri Nouwen wrote: “Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless.  Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”

No one likes to be weak or vulnerable or powerless; yet, who better to walk that road with than those we love the most?

And so once again, another Valentine’s Day has come and gone this past week.  I supplied the only candy hearts and flowers.  There was no special dinner or trip to the beach.  No candlelight or soft music.  But, having finally overcome my reluctance to embrace this journey, there were lots of special opportunities to express my love throughout the day.  While staying true to our routine, I added a hand-squeeze here, a smile there, extra hugs with some reassurance or a memory stirred in just to make sure the love in the room was felt by each of us.

We are on this pathway together and I believe I am beginning to at long last understand what that woman meant about it being “part of loving them”.

How about you?  Are there things you do on Valentine’s Day – or on any special day – to demonstrate your affection for your loved one with dementia?  They say one of the “love languages” is service, and certainly all caregivers understand that one.  But there is also touch, time, affirmation, and gifts.  Do you have things that you do to turn an ordinary day into one that can become special and celebrated?  What kind of potion do you brew to convey your love for the one you are caring for?  How are you creating those special moments of joy?  Would you be willing to share any of those ideas with us?

Most things about caregiving are up for discussion. 

How we demonstrate our love and compassion for those we care for is certainly one of them!  Please post your ideas in the comments section below along with your thoughts on this subject.

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  • I would like to see the blog posts – thanks. I’m caring for my parents, both of them with dementia at 92 and 100 years.

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