Thursday, July 16, 2020

The light in Alzheimer's and Dementia Individuals

"This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine
For you and me
Let it shine for you and me
I'm gonna let it shine"

I'm sure you have heard this song, it is one of my many favorites. I love to sing it to my residents in our Memory Care Unit, even though  I can't sing, well I'm not a great singer, and I've been told by some of our residents not to give up my day job! Lol, yes, no filter! I used to believe that Alzheimer's and Dementia individuals not only communicated with us just with words, half words, or tangled words but with their eyes. With this COVID19 virus that has put our world upside down, I was extremely concerned about how in the heck are we going to communicate with our Memory Care residents? When we have to go around with these masks on.

Well, I have discovered that I was right! They talk to us with their eyes! Yes, you read that right. Pay attention when you speak to your patients or loved ones. The connection that we make with them is thru our eye contact. I notice that even though I'm wearing a mask when I walk into the activity room and I give them an enthusiastic hello, they respond with a little light in their eyes, their eyes smile back!

Even our most confused residents respond in a positive way, of course, it also has to do with my tone of voice, which tends to be high pitched, cheery, and friendly. Today I had a conversation with one of our oldest residents, she is, bless her heart 100 years old! she is in a frail state at the moment and can hardly put her words together. She greeted me with a huge smile, not on her lips but in her eyes! we chatted for a bit, and the whole time her eyes were full of light. It reminds me of that saying "The eyes are the mirror of the soul" with individuals that can't communicate properly I have noticed that to be true, regardless of their ailment.

I wanted to share this with you, to hopefully make you a bit mindful of when communicating with your loved one. Let's be kinder when we look into their eyes, sometimes our words are soft and mellow, but our eyes are communicating our frustration, our anger, our sadness. You are sending them mixed messages! Then you wonder why things fall apart! Keep in mind that they can read our body language, you may think I'm making this up! but pay attention and you'll notice that I'm right. Let's learn to smile with our eyes. Keep in mind that when we are communicating with Alzheimer's or Dementia individuals ALWAYS, make eye contact, it does not matter what stage of the disease they are in. Keep your comments short and to the point, ALWAYS within their eye level.

P.S. I have also noticed a change in general with us "regular" people, that wearing masks has made some of us, well the majority that I've encountered a bit friendlier, pay attention to the eyes, they are kinder in their gaze. Wich gives us the opportunity to see thru the windows of the souls! I think it has to do that this COVID19 virus has made us all aware that for the first time, we really are all in this together literally, we are all vulnerable and that has created common ground. So let's all... let our lights (eyes) shine with kindness 
"Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine"

We are on this bumpy road together, you are not alone!
Be Prepared, Be Informed, Be Empowered.
I send you beams of virtual good vibes.