Disasters and emergencies can be particularly distressing for people with cognitive issues, such as dementia.
My Mum has dementia and lives in a nursing home. Whilst her memory is failing, her compassion, empathy and love very much remains.
Watching the Australian bushfire crisis unfold on the TV upsets my Mum and she feels the same sense of wanting to contribute that we all do.
As my Mum has no direct way of making a contribution, I asked her how she would like to give.
Her answer – ANIMALS! My Mum loves animals more than anything else in life, so I showed her 4 different animal charities and she chose a koala sanctuary. I made a donation on her behalf. It’s something simple, but also can be incredibly meaningful.
Dementia is a condition that takes away your ability to remember things in the future; but it doesn’t always take away your ability to live in the present.
At that moment, it was more than just making a donation – we talked about the fires, how upset we were, what we are passionate about and how we could make a contribution.
Does it matter that she won’t remember this in the future?
I don’t think so; what matters is the here and now. It’s all any of us have.
I bought Mum a koala bear, to help remind her that we did make a donation… and to give her something cute to cuddle up to on the couch when she is feeling distressed.
Living with a degenerative disease in a nursing home shouldn’t mean people don’t get to make a contribution to the world around them. We just need to find ways of helping them do so.