Is It Possible to Find Silver Linings in Alzheimer’s and Other Dementia-Related Diseases

After I spoke at a recent event at the Springs Living in Wilsonville, Oregon, a woman came up to me and said, “I lost my mother to Alzheimer’s. It’s a terrible disease, but once I learned to stop fighting the losses, I started finding little silver linings in unexpected places.”

I asked her to tell me more. She said, “When Mom forgot that I was her daughter, it really broke my heart, but the silver lining was that she really, really liked me anyhow.” She went on to say that when her mother asked where she lived, and she said, “I live in Portland, Oregon.” Her mother clapped her hands and said, “What a coincidence! My best friend lives in Portland, too.” (The mother thought her daughter was her best friend.)

One time when they went to the ladies room together, her mother studied their images in the mirror. After going back and forth from looking at herself and then her daughter, she exclaimed in delight, “Look at us! We’ve become such good friends that we’ve even started to look alike!”

Nothing can bring back the memories that are stolen by Alzheimer’s, and nothing can stop the progression of the disease. But if you can release your attachment to the past; if you can let go of your fears of what lies ahead, you might be able to share a laugh or enjoy a moment when you connect heart-to-heart. There aren’t a lot of silver linings in dementia, but finding them can help you maintain your own emotional equilibrium and give you the strength you need to provide care for someone who no longer knows exactly who you are or how you fit into their life.