Caregiving is a difficult job no matter what the circumstances, but if you’re caring for an aging loved one with dementia the task gets a lot harder.
My daughter and I used to “dad-sit” for a friend of ours while she worked. John was a pleasant man with wonderful stories of his life in San Francisco 30 or more years ago, but had trouble remembering that he just ate breakfast. His daughter Deb was a resourceful sort and she would leave notes on the fridge to remind him to look at the clock before he decided he was hungry.
Some of her notes were more personal, like “I love you Dad!” or “I’m so glad you’re here.” We often talked sitting at the kitchen bar so he could look over those notes again and again. It was clear they brought him comfort.
She left notes that told him to eat his jello at 10 a.m. Some notes told him when she would be home and “I can’t wait to see you.” The living room was filled with framed photos that Deb had labeled. Some read “this is me — your daughter” or “this is your grandson — Mark.” The front door had a note that said, “Don’t go out ‘til I get home.” On the wall near the bathroom was a big sign that said, “Your bathroom, Dad.”
Deb informed local police officers that her dad had dementia and to drive past her house when they could. She rarely left him alone, sometimes he still wandered while being watched! Luckily all his strolls ended with an escort by the local officers or good neighbors that would strike up a conversation with him and walk him back home.
Anything a caregiver can do to make it more comfortable for the one they love is a good thing. I love how Deb didn’t stop with “lunch is at noon” or “eat your fruit at 2,” but there were just as many that told him how much she loved him.
I’ve seen notes be a blessing to bed-ridden folks. One of our neighbors was caring for her 100-year-old mother Mable, who was immobile. Charlie, her daughter, was retired but still had to go out from time-to-time, so Tara Marie or I would “mom-sit” with her. Charlie also hung post-it notes around her mother’s bed that said “I love you” or “Sleep well.”
Mable had trouble talking but her mind was clear and you could see her read her “love notes” over and over again.
Love notes are wonderful for everyone, not just those with dementia. Sometimes a “love note” can brighten even a caregiver’s day, so why not write one for the one you know!