I’ve been traveling a lot and working. I haven’t been in touch as much as I want to be, and I have missed people’s posts that are important. But so many of you have been kind and stayed in touch with me even if I haven’t been able to return the kindness and I appreciate it. Thank you!
Yesterday I did a 9 hour interstate drive. Sometimes I listened to music, sometimes I just watched the hawks soar by my side. In the mountains there was dense fog and it was easier to concentrate on the road in complete silence. I like interstate drives. They give me an opportunity to clear my head, to talk out loud to myself (literally)…to hear how phrases and words sound and feel when I repeat them over and over. When I drive, I practice writing out loud, instead of on paper.
Communication is the core of my life. I write all day long every day. And speak. And communicate. And write some more. And yesterday I found myself wondering “Why if I couldn’t? What if I lost the ability to speak and the people who were taking care of me thought there was no one in there anymore? But there still was someone in there, only she was unable to reach out, and had become completely dependent on people reaching in toward her? What if that happened to me?
I have a fear that people would forget that I love music, and poetry, and art, and dancing, and gardening. That simple pleasures, like getting a manicure, bring me a tremendous feeling of peace and relaxation. That arranging a vase of flowers can occupy me for 30 minutes. That I love it when someone reads me a story, that I love listening to music and watching dance videos.
This is not so different for men and women who suffer from dementia, I do not care what anyone says. These men and women may lose their capacity to communicate in a manner that we recognize, but it would be a great mistake, and an error in our individual and collective humanity, to simply assume that they can no longer take comfort in simple pleasures – like listening to a piano sonata, working on a coloring book, or taking a few dance steps in the arms of a fellow human being.
There are many interventions for people with dementia. The only ones that seem to get any attention are the pharmaceutical ones. But this is changing, and stories like The Faces of Alzheimer’s, by Anahad O’Connor in the NY Times will eventually tip the balance until people pay more attention to things that can be introduced into the daily care of dementia patients that are soothing – like music and art therapy.
When we spend time with ourselves, it puts us in touch with what matters to us. It reminds us who we are. How deeply connected we are. How much we need one another. And if we can remember what we need, it will be easier to remember what someone else needs when the time comes to reach out to them.
Thank you all for reading…and staying connected.