Notes of Compassion: A Caregiver’s Guide to Navigating Dementia

Ruth Shares Her Inspiring Journey through Music, Support, and Unconditional Love

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a journey that demands strength, compassion, and unwavering dedication. It’s a path filled with challenges, but also one that offers invaluable lessons and moments of profound joy. We had the privilege of hearing from a caregiver who has embarked on this poignant journey with grace and love.

Through candid reflections and heartwarming anecdotes, Ruth shares her experiences, offering insights that will resonate with anyone facing similar circumstances.

Join us as we delve into Ruth’s journey of caregiving, guided by the wisdom and compassion of someone who has learned, firsthand, the immeasurable value of unconditional love.

What are some of the main challenges you have faced as a family caregiver?

My dad was always my hero! He took such good care of my mother and our family growing up. It breaks my heart to see the cognitive challenges he is now coping with.

The most challenging part of this journey is when my father’s care situation required my mother and I to transition him to an assisted living home. Sometimes, he would have a few good days, and then we would question our decision. Being a decision-making care partner can be a challenging, stressful job.

I love my father unconditionally. Even if he doesn’t always know who I am, he still knows I’m someone special in his life. This means the world to me.

What lessons have you learned and what advice would you pass on to other families?

It can be a struggle caring for someone living with dementia. But attending caregiving classes, Savvy Caregiving, and joining a support group through Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska is the best advice I can give. I am so thankful that I have these services to better understand how to support my dad with dementia, my mother, and especially how to take care of myself.

My husband’s mother was a resident in a lovely memory care home. Every morning they would sing old hymnals and they could sing all the verses, even though they couldn’t remember what they just had for breakfast. At the time I didn’t know anything about Alzheimer’s disease, but now I know how important music is in dementia care.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from the person you’re caring for?

I love my father unconditionally. Even if he doesn’t always know who I am, he still knows I’m someone special in his life. This means the world to me. Playing a role in my father’s care has given me a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

What about your caregiving experience gives you the most joy?

Just knowing that my father feels loved, trusts me, and feels safe and well cared for—this gives me joy and a sense of peace.

Why did you decide to share your story with us?

I think it is a tough journey. No two people are the same. A person living with dementia is doing the best they can. What I’ve learned has helped me to meet those day-to-day challenges. I like to share those experiences with other caregivers when I can.

Is there a humorous or endearing story or memory that you would like to share?

My mom and dad have been married for 69 years. That is quite an accomplishment! Dad will often ask me, “How old am I?” When I tell him he’s 88 years old, his mouth always drops open and he says, “I’m 88?” My mom and I always smile. 

From the heartache of tough decisions to the illuminating power of music and the enduring joy found in moments of connection, Ruth’s journey is an inspiring testament to love’s transformative strength. As we navigate the labyrinth of caregiving with Ruth, we discover that it is not just a responsibility but a profound and evolving act of love, resilience, and learning. Her dedication, humor, and unconditional love in the face of adversity serve as a guiding light for all caregivers, emphasizing the resilience that can be found in the heartwarming moments, the shared laughter, and the unwavering bonds that endure. Ruth’s story is a celebration of the human spirit’s capacity to find joy, purpose, and connection even in the midst of the most challenging circumstances.

If you are a care partner to someone living with ADRD you’ll find resources on our website. Or give us a call and let us know how we can help!

Our deepest thanks to Ruth for sharing her touching experience with us.