Finding Happiness Within Dementia

Happiness, like life, is a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs and scares and thrills in between. Currently, I’m on a theme park ride with my mother, and it’s called Alzheimer’s. Although it’s a pretty scary ride, there are so many happy moments that are intertwined. For those, I’ll be forever thankful.

To this day, I have a sensory memory of standing in line with Mama as she held my hand, assuring me that our 2-minute ride on Six Flags’ Scream Machine would be fun and fast and she’d be sitting right next to me. The roller coaster analogy is not lost on me, as I now hold her hand, and she feels the assurance that someone familiar is nearby.

In the midst of the ups and downs that make up Alzheimer’s, come glimpses of times that were happy. And those are the moments in the present that bring happiness during this insidious winding down of memory and physicality.

Today was a typical day. She was so happy to see me. Judging by her reaction, it was a high point. Keeping in mind the roller coaster ride, she hit a low of not recognizing her granddaughter (“ . . . who is she?”). We had a wonderful visit, though, that included watching one of her favorite movies, “SHAG: The Movie.” If you knew my mother, you’d recognize that her love of music and dancing, especially, is something that has not left her during her dementia. The encore of the movie has a couple dancing to “Stagger Lee” by Lloyd Price — watch the clip below 😉 She managed to stand up from her wheelchair and dance a jig. She remembered that song. She remembered that foot shuffle.  And then she smiled. And we danced.

Happy feet, happy hearts. Happiness can be found, even fleetingly, within Alzheimer’s.

About Pamela Lesch

Pamela Lesch is a professional makeup artist in Charleston, SC. In addition to her extensive work with brides, she has a long list of media...

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