I remember, as a boy, walking in the countryside with Dad to a place at the edge of the woods where, in his youth, he had quenched his thirst with cool spring water after ploughing the fields. He found the spring, which had become overgrown and silted over the years. All I could see was mud. But Dad knew there was a wellspring of sparkling, cool, refreshing water below. After clearing some debris, the water began to freely flow and wash away the impurities. In just a few moments, there was enough fresh water so that we could each dip our hands in for a drink. I remember thinking that water was the best tasting, most satisfying liquid that had ever passed through my lips. And all it took was a seeker who remembered where the spring was, and who cared enough to clear the way.
Thinking back on this experience, I see it metaphorically as a lesson for care partners of those who have dementia. We know our loved ones, their unique self – elements that still persist despite cognitive impairment. We know where to find their personhood, although dementia’s debris may have impaired its expression. If we care, then perhaps we can find ways (the create arts, reminiscence, pets, children, any shared activity, being present and attentive, laughter, play, nature, mindful listening, engaging imagination, and many others) to remove the obstructions so that the clear waters of the self can begin to flow again. And even a small sip of the spiritual essence of another person can be soul – filling.
So let’s go hunting for the inner springs, clear out the stream beds, and watch the waters freely flow.
#Alzheimers #Dementia #Caregiving #CultureOfCompassion