Trying to communicate with a loved one with dementia can be hugely frustrating … until we learn to slow down and be present with them.
This didn’t come easily for me! I was in full-on ‘busy adult mode’ when Mum started slipping into dementia. Having to answer the same question over and over, and listen to her repeat the same story countless times a day, tested what little patience I had.
When I was growing up, a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’ glared accusingly at us kids from behind the bathroom door: “Fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,” it demanded. In the rush to tick off my list of ‘very important things to do’, I forgot that I was actually a human BE-ing and morphed into a very busy human DO-ing.
But busyness was not what Mum needed. She had stepped over a threshold into a land of deep forgetfulness, where the past and future were slipping away. Coming to rest in the present moment, she waited patiently for me to slow down enough to connect with her there.
So, how did I finally learn to slow down and be present with Mum?
A coach taught me some very helpful calming practices developed by the HeartMath Institute. Practising those techniques regularly helped me to release my frustration, become more focused and calm, and realise that I could communicate with Mum ‘from the heart’ rather than through lots of words.
Being in the present moment with Mum was a blessing. Some of my most precious memories are from the last few years of her life when we spoke little but communed deeply through touch and gaze.