Is there joy when living with dementia? Well I sure hope so otherwise, ‘what the hell?’ Right? You should at least experience some form of joy if everything else is fading all around you. I know that joy can be the result of something or it could just be a feeling of contentment. Perhaps because there are no worries in one’s life, (s)he can simply be free to feel joy.
Lately, I’ve been wondering if my grandmother experiences joy in her life. Even if it is fleeting. I’ve started to think she does. So often I get caught up in her bad days and her bad moods and how to eliminate the bad. But one day, as I sat feeling exhausted and defeated on the couch, I heard this soft humming. It was a song. My grandmother was sitting, head bowed down and focused on her coloring book, and she started singing. Her humming actually transitioned into singing! The song was so pleasant. I still have no idea what she was singing about or why she started but I know I was ready to listen to it all day. Tata wasn’t even aware that she was singing so when she stopped and I asked her to continue, she was utterly confused. Of course, my husband thinks she does this intentionally to distract him from watching T.V. but I seriously doubt it.
Tata has joy in her life! What a blessing. There is joy in dementia. We just have to work at taking away the fear and stop focusing on the bad. When we nurture what my grandmother enjoys, she starts to calm down and start humming or even singing. In one of her few moments of clarity (and even those aren’t so clear anymore), Tata teared up, looked me in the eyes and asked that if she ever gets worked up that I take her gently by the hand and tell her to stop. Tata continued to say that she doesn’t mean to cause any trouble, it’s that she doesn’t know, and so she looks at me to guide her. So I will. I promised her I will. And now, my focus is on making sure she has more joy in her life because, there is joy in dementia. We just have to find it and nurture it.