...so goes one philosophy for Rules of Engagement with family members suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's. While listening to NPR's recent This American Life episode, "Magic Words", Act 2, I learned about the creators of http://www.in-themoment.com/, a couple whose mother fell prey to Alzheimer's.
Forgoing immediate correction, dismissing nay-saying and altogether disregarding the entrenched demand to get the facts straight, this imaginative and playful approach suspends reality in order to enter into the world of the family member whose memory has betrayed them.
I don't personally have any experience with this painful and confusing sojourn with a family member whose mind is unpredictable and unchartable. The merits of this philosophy seem to have warrant, though. Not that the affects and remedies of these painful tribulations can be so simplified into one simple rubric, but a "step into their world" mantra could be beneficial.
I can relate as a father and as a child in the kingdom of God. It gave me pause to evaluate "How am I doing at stepping into my daughter's world?" Her imagination is exploding right now: bears in the closet, make-believe friends who need prayer, surprise events from the day which never truly occurred, monkeys in the tree. When I step into her world, I affirm her dignity as a child, as my daughter. Her imagination afterall is the precursor to faith, faith which I pray grows like a mustard seed in her heart. If she learns to live a myopic and short-sighted life which can only be corroborated by the seen and tangible, then her heart will atrophy, wither and die. The rejection or loss of childlike wonder, imagination and helplessness leads to suffering for her and others. When I lose this wonder and imaginative play, I also lose out on relationship with her.