June 8, 2021
It was a few years before Hunter and I developed a relationship. His lifelong dream is to someday own his own nursing home. All of the staff care so much, and when I’d learned that Hunter and team were craving some brightness in the day, he felt that he could provide that by dressing the residents up (with clothes he’d purchase from thrift stores) like they’re going to dinner.
Hunter, and the entire care staff, are the people we trust to care for our loved ones when we cannot. This small gesture of kindness and empathy helps give the residents, like Mom, their dignity back. It’s been so fun to document her outfits and see what Hunter pulls together. Mom seems to love it and is quite the celebrity. In these moments, I’ve learned who my Mom needs me to be for us to enjoy our time together and to make the best of it.
There are so many levels to this, but in “brain dumping” how I’m feeling and sharing my journey, it is unexpectedly bringing so many people joy. The responses I’ve received are nothing I anticipated. It’s doing so many things I never saw coming. Spotlighting the profession itself and how much dignity these people give to the patients in their circumstance. It’s changing people’s lives and has alleviated the negative feelings in their own journey because of the takeaways, lessons and values I’ve shared from my visits with Mom.
It’s hell living on the Alzheimer’s rollercoaster. Sometimes you leave wondering, was that the last good visit? The most important thing I’ve learned in all of this is to treasure the moments when they come. So many people have said that I should write a book and if I ever find the time I would title it with how I sign off on every post, “You Go with Your Alzheimer’s Self Mom.”
- Pam Payeur, Alzheimer’s Awareness Month (June 2021)