A friend of mine once posed this question to a group of people with early-onset dementia:
“What do you do to enrich your life?”
What a brilliant question! We should all poke heads up from our jobs, responsibilities, and schedules, take a look around and ask ourselves this question. It’s a brilliant question for any human being but is especially challenging and critical for those with Alzheimer’s, when what has always been life-enriching is leaving.
Following the thread of the story in a novel or movie may become too difficult, lack of coordination or memory for sequential steps may render previously beloved hobbies like woodworking, gardening, playing chess, or knitting impossibly frustrating, an intolerance for too much noise may prevent dining at a favorite restaurant, and travel may become too confusing and tiring to make it worth packing for that tropical vacation.
If the ground you’re standing on has cracked, shifted, or eroded too much to enjoy those things that have always enriched your life prior to Alzheimer’s, it’s time to assess the landscape you’re standing on now. This is also true for caregivers, whose days can become consumed with running the household alone and nights with exhaustion and isolation.
For both those with dementia and those caring for them, what you lose can be staggering and more than mildly depressing. Finding new hobbies and passions, new ways to relax and connect with friends and loved ones requires courage, determination, and creativity. I invite you to share the adaptations and strategies you’ve found with others who have begun to look. However you are affected by dementia,
What do you do to enrich your life?
Lisa Genova, author of STILL ALICE, www.StillAlice.com