My friend sings instructions to his wife with Alzheimer’s disease. I hear her giggling and then I start laughing and before you know it, the three of us are totally in the present moment. We’re not thinking about her bowel movements or when she’ll start wandering or whether she’ll find her meds we’ve tried so hard to bury in her yogurt.
There’s a lot about giving care that is neither fun nor funny. Helping your parents and loved ones will test your balance and stamina. It will stress your spouse, your family, your work life, perhaps even your basic sense of self. Sometimes, it will bring you a level of joy that will surprise you. Other times, it will bring you down.
Have fun with the every day tasks. When my friend showers his wife, he announces her exit from the bathroom, “Make way for the queen.” Don’t take it personally when a loved one forgets who you are. I had one client join me and his wife at the kitchen table. As he sat down, his wife turned to me and asked, “Who is that?” Without hesitation, the husband said, “It’s me, Tom, your husband.” The wife looked at me with wide eyes and said, “Another Tom?” And we all laughed and agreed that another ‘Tom’ would be a lot to handle.
It’s okay to laugh, as long as you’re laughing with them. They haven’t lost their sense of humor. When we laugh, we are playing. When we are playing, life is fun…and that makes all the difference.