I recently came across this quote:
“If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.” -Marvin J. Aston
I have a copy of this quote on the door of my office and on my computer as a reminder for me each day at the clinic. I have decided to also put it on the Fox Valley Memory Project website. Normally I write about topics I hope will be helpful to individuals with memory loss and their family caregivers. This topic of understanding could not be more relevant to all who are involved in the Memory Project.
As we have experienced, memory loss is unique as it becomes known and progresses in each person’s life. While there are many shared experiences for those whose memories are progressively changing, there is no one experience. We can love and support them best when we attempt to understand their changes, related feelings, and how they perceive what is happening to them. They may or may not be able to tell us and are sometimes at completely different places in acknowledging the losses. Attempting to think about what it is like to be them and imagining “walking a mile in their shoes,” may give us some additional ability to be supportive of them.
This equally applies to the primary caregiver(s) – those who are in that daily life support circle of a person with memory loss. I can never write, educate, and advocate enough on behalf of the caregivers. Those experiences all encompass unique challenges that need to be heard, understood, and supported. It is hard for anyone who is not there to understand what day-to-day life in the home is actually like. Recognition of the challenges of the person experiencing the loss does not diminish the importance of the needs of the caregiver. We know you are in this together and it is to everyone’s benefit when caregivers are also given loving, gentle care!
For those who are in the broader circle around those with memory loss, their family and friends, we need to identify and engage ourselves in understanding their unique challenges, withhold our judgments, and find our own ways to be more gentle, loving, patient, tolerant (accepting), and caring.
Fox Valley Memory Project is working to continue to reach persons who could benefit from the services, as well as increase the broader community’s understanding by continuing to provide educational presentations. The work of the Purple Angel initiative is also expanding understanding for those who will serve those with memory loss and their family and friends. Leadership of the Project also recognizes and is planning for additional ways to reach out and meet the needs of those who may no longer be as easily able to be active in the community and at home more of the time.
Beth Belmore | July 2015