Monthly Archives: August 2015

Miracles with Dementia

Is it possible to reach those who seem to be losing their memories, their very identity as they/we knew it before? I knew a woman a few years back, a close family friend, who we all adored. She was spunky, social, vibrant and tall, wore red nail polish wherever she would go, and matching shoes. She loved to celebrate with family and friends, and she was always game for a party, with a sunshine smile on her face.
Aileen was then diagnosed with dementia, and this was not something she was willing to accept.  None of us could believe it. How could she lose any of her amazing vibrant personality?  In truth, she didn’t. She lost her memory, she got confused, but I still saw the same Aileen shine through the cracks of mental awareness. I encouraged her to accept her diagnosis as not changing who she really was. And that seemed to make her smile. She did get moved to a long term care facility, as she began to be a harm to herself (leaving the stove on etc.), and I visited a couple of times. It was sad to see her go. I did the best I could, but it was heart-breaking to see my friend lose her home.
What it taught me was that even with a diagnosis like dementia or Alzheimer’s, someone can still thrive as much as possible with the love of family and friends. Aileen lost her ability to organize her time or remember who visited, but she did not lose her ability to smile. She got confused and a little embarrassed when she didn’t look quite right, but with my loving hand, and encouragement, it didn’t seem to matter much anymore. We could still talk, and I could try to love her, and protect her, and make her feel safe and know that all was really well.
I heard that her last day on earth was spent at a family visit to her daughter’s where they had a riding lawn mower contest and Aileen won! That night she returned to her care facility and died of a heart attack, in some way spared from any further deterioration, leaving a lasting impression of love with her family and friends.
I have always felt it is important to honour the elders in our lives, whether they are fully functioning or not. They are filled with stories, with love, with devotion, if only we will listen. And they love to hear ours as well! To bring along pictures or music, to sing, to dance – all is still possible with love.
This talk I am hosting next Monday August 10, given by Michael Verde, is about all that. “Love is Listening” is really a command to love one another, more fully, more powerfully than we ever thought possible.  When we don’t have the answers, when we don’t have the cure, we have love. We have our arms, our hears, our smiles, or patience, our gifts, our songs, and our faith that something else, something deeper and more beautiful is really going on.  Love is love. Regardless how we age, or how we die.
And “Love one another” is the most important command of all.
Krista Moore is hosting a talk provided by Memory Bridge, a non-profit organization in the States dedicated to ending the social and emotional isolation of individuals with dementia. Michael Verde, Founder and educator, will be presenting this talk for 2 hours, including a valuable Q&A in which you can get your specific questions answered. He is the creator of the PBS documentary “There is a Bridge”. Talk Mon. August 10, 2-4pm. Toronto Reference Library. Tickets $25 at the door or purchase online.  For more information or advance tickets, go to her event page at, or to the Memory Bridge Foundation website at