Remember to Remember
By Jean Donahue
My parents were
older when they had me, so they had different experiences than many of the
parents of my friends. My father didnít serve in the military because he
was either too young or too old when there was a war.
talked about his experiences here, in the United States, during World War
II. The government gave people ration stamps which they needed to buy any
food and gas. Jobs were also hard to get. One summer, Dad learned he could
get work as a carpenter on a blimp base if he could get to Tillamook,
Oregon. He went to the ration board and asked for enough gas stamps to
drive to Oregon, which they gave him. At that time, the normal speed
people drove a car was 40 miles per hour. Can you imagine traveling the
1,800 miles to Tillamook at 40 miles an hour?
summer Mom and Dad were having a picnic on the beach (along with other
people) when they saw the periscope of an enemy submarine. Mom said she
wondered what the men in the submarine thought as they watched families
having picnics on their enemyís shore.
times were good times for Mom and Dad, and I enjoyed hearing about them.
Quite often, a caregiver tries to do too many things in too few hours,
neglecting moments and opportunities to talk with their loved one. They
neglect real communication about things that are important to them. Those
things are probably experiences from their past because the present
isnít what they would like it to be.
times my parents talked about were important to them when they lived them,
and they were important again at the end of their lives. They enjoyed
remembering the good times. They enjoyed remembering the tough times. They
enjoyed remembering coming out of the bad times. They did NOT enjoy
remembering the bad times.
had Alzheimerís disease and didnít remember her past, but she enjoyed
hearing about it and was always pleasantly surprised at the various
stories Dad would tell. I enjoyed them, learned more about my parents and
became closer to them by listening. Taking time to talk WITH your loved
one instead of talking TO them will be well worth it, and you will cherish
those moments the rest of your life.
problem with talking is that your loved one might not be able to
communicate as well as they used to. They may be hard of hearing or have
some other problem that makes it difficult to carry on a conversation.
Here are some tips that might help.
your loved one is hard of hearing, insist that they get a hearing aid. One
might be all they need, and insist that they wear it when you talk with
them. Of course, make sure the battery is good and that it is turned on
and adjusted. Sit down in front of them so they can see your face. Sit at
the same level as them. Speak distinctly and not too fast. Eliminate
background noise as much as possible. Sit calmly and donít rush the
your loved one has had a stroke, their hearing and speech may be impaired.
Talk normally. If they say something you donít understand, be honest and
tell them you donít understand what they said, and ask them to say it
again. If they canít say or think of the right word, let them try to
come up with it for a time before completing their sentence. If they
donít understand you, give them a hug to reassure them, comfort them and
let them know that you love them.
your loved one has dementia, talk normally but not too fast. You may need
to repeat something several times before they understand what you are
saying, or you may need to use different words. Talk about one thing at a
time. If your loved one seems to be stuck on one thought, talk about
something different to try to distract them. You may need to do that more
than once to get them to think of something else. Tell them happy stories
about their past or your past. They will enjoy it.