wings and things

The carer who “loves” dementia!

on September 16, 2015

Jodie Desilva works as a carer and supervisor at the nursing home where Anthony lives, her favourite area being the dementia cottage. She has such a gentle manner, and exudes such calm, that whenever I was working with her, I felt a sense of great peace. I noticed, too, that the residents were also affected in very positive ways by her contagious serenity.

On beginning her shift, Jodie will always distribute her latest acquisitions around the cottage: second-hand scarves, hand-bags, mirrors, and all sorts of colourful, miscellaneous objects. In doing so, she transforms the living areas – dining and television rooms, entrances and hallways, into a mosaic of colours, interesting objects, and cosy busyness. The ways she does this – so quickly and yet so unhurriedly (this is probably the definition of ‘efficiency’!) – is testament to her gentleness.

But it was the way Jodie related to the residents with dementia that most struck me. If A. wanted to know where her (deceased) husband was, Jodie would give her a hug and reassure her that he’d be back soon; if B. refused her dinner, Jodie would ask her what she wanted instead (for example, a sandwich); if C. started screaming “get the cops!” Jodie would humour her into a laugh.

It was during one of these laughing moments that Jodie looked at me and said, “I LOVE dementia!” Her compassionate giggle, her hand resting on the shoulder of one of the residents, her total ease in the company of so many people with dementia was/IS moving.

Jodie’s comment about loving dementia makes a hell of a lot of sense to me now. After all, in terms of Anthony’s encroaching Parkinson’s disease dementia, there isn’t much point in me hating it when we have both now accepted it. But to love it? To love dementia? That idea has taken me a bit longer to absorb. It certainly hasn’t been a problem for me to love Anthony of course, but to love his dementia?

Then all of a sudden it strikes me; I have been loving his dementia; I have been making his room more colourful; I have been laughing more with him; I have been coping better; I have been exuding my own sense of peace….

Thank you, Jodie Desilva, for your wisdom and your personal kindness to everyone you meet at the nursing home (and elsewhere I’m sure). I salute you.

20 responses to “The carer who “loves” dementia!

  1. ksbeth says:

    both you and jodie have learned that acceptance, even of your perceived enemy, is the strongest weapon you’ve got, and embracing it, helps to calm the beast and bring light back into the world.

  2. Vicki says:

    Jodie must be a dream to work with. Leaning to love such a debilitating health condition is probably the only way to live with it successfully and not let it get you down.

  3. Jodie sounds like an angel among us.

  4. lensgirl53 says:

    Your words bear much wisdom, Julie. I have found that my own mom’s dementia has made me realize that I have to live in the moment she is living in and not try to make it what it is not. She has accepted her situation now…or rather has forgotten it, basically. My heart is grateful for caregivers such as Jodie and you, who really know how to care.

  5. susanpoozan says:

    What a wonderful caregiver, just like you!

  6. There is a lot of wisdom in knowing how to relate to those with dementia.. not to ‘fight’ their comments with reality, but to just accept the limits of the individual… and to feel so comfortable in doing so, that she/you can actually say she ‘loves’ it, is really special.. Diane

  7. How wonderful that there has been someone there who has helped you see that you are loving dementia it must be so difficult in the beginning though

  8. Anonymous says:

    Jodie is one of the most wonderful friends a person a person could ever have. She loves what she does in everyday life.Accepts people for who they are and never holds judgement. Jodie is a true angel a gift from GOD here on earth. xo

  9. Terry says:

    What an awesome lady! I am thrilled you have a friendship with her

  10. Tiny says:

    It’s wonderful to have people like her, and you, taking care of dementia patients.

  11. My utmost respect, admiration and kudos to your Jodie!!!!

  12. Cathy says:

    I really get this! Years ago- and I still remember this vividly- I pushed my grandfather in his wheelchair (fast!) around the nursing home chasing rabbits. He would yell, “there it goes, did you SEE that?” I’d yell back, “Yep. We’ll catch up to it down this hallway”. On and on it would go until I’d notice him napping, maybe dreaming of finally catching that rabbit. Well, I’d return to my grandmother and my mother as they sat in the visitors’ lounge quietly shaking their heads, and then be chastised for “going along with his nonsense”. Bravely I stood up to them more than once, and said, “I don’t see grandpa getting into our reality so I might as well join his!”. lol, I can still see those two beautiful ladies, lips pursed, rolling their eyes at each when they thought I wasn’t looking. Kudos to your Jodie!

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