Dementia and living in the now

live-in-the-now-ziggySometimes living in the now is made difficult by not being able to remember our past, or our future plans. Although the positive psychology movement and motivators may say ‘make the best of what you have’, which is a great mantra and I aspire to all the time, it isn’t always easy to live with not being able to recall ones own life.

Last night I cried about the fact my dear husband spends most television time watching the same program, or watching a program that is so lame because I can no longer bare too much high excitement or drama because I can’t keep up with the stories, nor bear anything too traumatic due to the nightmares that follow. He says not to worry, but that is not such an easy task.

One of the blogs I follow posted a beautiful blog today titled We Find Ourselves…Remembering. Head over there to read the poem which is truly beautiful. The words that follow the poem say this; “Memories become part of our life each day. We think of our loved one and see them in the moments in each day. We remember a sunset shared; a walk together in the morning sunrise; sitting, no words spoken, listening to the quiet of the evening. In the shadows…in the light of day…just around any corner or behind the ring of a phone, we find ourselves remembering.” They have made me think once again about the impact on the person with dementia and their loved ones, of not remembering.

Even though I still live my life to the max, there is an intense sadness and loneliness in not remembering one’s own world, and a feeling of inward or reverse isolation. Not the kind brought on by the loss of some friends, colleagues or family after diagnosis, or the kind brought on by something like no longer being able to drive, but one of not being a part of one’s own world. It feels like a very weird phenomena, perhaps like being in a crowd and knowing no-one, not even yourself. The thought of looking in a mirror and not recognising my own face is actually hideous, but maybe not as awful as the thought of not remembering my husband, children or very close family and friends, especially because of the impact on them.

Then again, perhaps for people living with dementia, not remembering could be seen as the ultimate ‘Living in the now’? Definitely something to think about!!!

7 thoughts on “Dementia and living in the now

  1. Thank you Kate for opening up about this topic – it is something that still upsets me 16 years after losing my memory. And the thing is – nobody understands, not even my family. Oh, my mum does, but nobody else. They don’t appreciate some of my coping mechanisms.

    And it’s something that affects me 24 / 7 ….. it’s not just about not remembering my past … (I don’t remember anything about growing up etc ……. nothing until the diagnosis and then virtually nothing since then …….) it’s also about not even being able to live a normal life NOW because of it. I can’t do certain hobbies because I can’t learn new things ….. eg. learn to do certain things on the computer …… I can’t read books …. play card games …. watch TV series’ with a continuing story line ….. so it even affects the enjoyment of “now” because there is a lot that we can’t do “now” ….

    It’s been the source of much unhappiness and many tears have been shed over the years ……. you’re not alone Kate …. {big hug} ……..

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    • Thank you for sharing your pain, and I’m glad writing baout this part of living with dementia seemes helpful. Of course, there are many sides to the coin, and we often feel differently about the same things, on different days. I write here about how I feel, or have felt, in an attempt to understand, to try to see things differently, or to help myself accept things and heal. Big hugs to you too xxx

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  2. I was thinking about why remembering is so important…As I always do with every question, I break it down until I get to the core of the issue. I would have to think remembering is so important to us humans because remembering provides security and stability. We have memories in a sense to define who we are and if we don’t know who we are how scary. I am wondering if allowing yourself to let your husband define who you are and concentrate on him and who you are with him and the life the two of you create in each moment would be of value? I don’t know Kate. I am not a PWD so I am clueless… I remember over my many years I have struggled at times with wanting to fix my life but I have no memories from birth to say 15. It drove me crazy for years and I would keep saying “How can I fix my life if I don’t know what messed it up?” It was when I finally released my need to find out what happened in my past that I was able to be free. The past really did not matter, it was the person I was now that I could fix and i did by learning to love myself as I am. Much, much love my friend…..Blessings and hugs….VK

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    • My dear friend, you are certainly not clueless. It is always great to hear alternative ways to think or respond to issues we face, and I thank you for your continuing support and ideas. Take care… love and hugs…

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  3. My best surprise is that Alzheimers has brought “Mindfulness”- being here in the present. Camped by a riverbank in the shade of casuarinas, listening to the birds and watching the antics of the emus or the ducks, you are fully present there. They have your undivided attention. Driving through the Outback, listening to the music of Sibelius or Dvorak, you see the colours of the landscape, the red road up ahead, the plains where the grasses dance with the music. Talking to a friend, in a quiet corner of a coffee shop, you are focused in the moment. You are focused on that person. They have your full attention. You are actively present and that encounter has value.

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