Dementia’s Evolution: Negative and Positive Changes are Possible

March 26, 2018

It can be surprising that features of memory loss may include anger, agitation and peace, calm

There is a broad assumption that memory decline usually includes fear, anger and agitation, which is only partly true. During our support groups, we often talk about the grief in witnessing such changes. One recent night, however, the daughter of a resident shared something that left a deep impression on me. She was sharing her grief at losing her mother, though still living, to Alzheimer’s Disease.

She spoke up in group and in a quiet thoughtful way said, “there has been one silver lining in all this.” She said she had grown up with a mother who, in her own words, was “a very angry woman.” She said her mother rarely embraced her or her siblings, and her mother never said, “I love you.” Her mother could be harsh with her words and, as she aged, her mother was fiercely determined to stay independent.  She was hostile to anyone who helped her, even the kindly neighbors who found her wandering outside in her pajamas on a cold South Dakota night.

After the event that found her mother wandering, the daughter moved her mother to her own home in the south suburbs. This move allowed her to care for her mother more regularly. Finally, exhausted and emotionally spent, the daughter, still working a full-time job, moved her mother to Emerald Crest in Victoria where she now lives.

“Now, when I leave, my mother hugs me and tells me she loves me,” the daughter’s eyes sparkled with unshed tears. She continued, “as hard as this is for my siblings and I, this has been one change that is been really eye-opening. It’s been a gift.”

Diseases of dementia can rob us of the loved one we knew, but not always in fearful or negative ways. Dementia can, and does, soften some residents into peaceful and surrendered persons. Other Emerald Crest family members have said that their driven, organized parents have now become peaceful, easy-going and accepting of those around them due to the progression of dementia. “She is really different, now. She’s very placid. She used to be really anxious and controlling and she isn’t any more,” said a daughter of a Burnsville resident. “[The change] is very neat to see.”

When we remain open to what might be, in the face of what is usually predictable in the progress of memory loss, we live in the comfort of hope and possibility. This is the hope that gives strength to our journey and grounds us – but not in what probably will happen – in what could possibly happen. The journey only begins with dementia. The destination is not always fear and anxiety, but can be hope and surrender as well.

Blessings of hope and surrender for you and your loved one. Peace and good health to you.

Rev. Lette Gamble


At Emerald Crest, we offer a deep knowledge of memory care in a specialized assisted living setting for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related conditions. We encourage you to contact us directly with any questions or request a tour. For tours and general information, please contact Christine Drasher at 952-908-2215.

For questions about our spiritual care program and Caregiver’s Meal and Meeting, or if you would like spiritual care and support for you or your loved one, contact Rev. Lette Gamble at 612-554-6379 or lgamble@augustanacare.org.

Emerald Crest by Augustana Care provides memory care in a unique environment, specifically designed to support those with cognitive issues. Utilizing this exceptional model of care, individuals with dementia, Alzheimer’s and related conditions can flourish in positive relationships and participation in meaningful activities. Memory care is offered in the Minneapolis – Saint Paul area with communities in four convenient locations: Shakopee, Burnsville, Minnetonka and Victoria, MN.

 

 

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They call them houses, because that is how it feels, like your home. The activities keep the residents in each house busy every day. My family couldn't be happier with the choice we made to move our mother to Emerald Crest Shakopee.  We feel confident that our mom is cared for and safe.

— Bruce, son of resident

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