Keeping Memories Alive: Sharing Stories of Loved Ones with Dementia

As any family member of a person with dementia can tell you, the disease lends itself to some deeply bizarre situations.  Alzheimer’s and other dementias attack the parts of the brain that regulate cognition and reasoning, which often means the person with dementia will behave in ways that are entirely irrational.  Sometimes this can be frustrating, leaving caregivers at the end of their wits.  At other times, it may be amusing.  Finding the humor in the situation can be a wonderful coping mechanism for family caregivers and can also be a way of continuing to make meaningful memories with a loved one who has dementia.

ELET paralegal Sheri Doubrley shares one such story from her own experience.

The Midnight Brownie Party

By Sheri Doubrley

I am writing this story on September 12, 2018. Today is the 6th anniversary of my mother’s death.  It is, of course, a day that brings many memories of my mother to mind — some sad, but most happy.

My mother suffered from small vessel dementia for the last few years of her life, and as odd as it sounds, a memory of her that always brings a smile to my family’s face is associated with that terrible disease:  The Midnight Brownie Party.  My mother loved dessert (a gene she passed along to me), and so our big family meal on the weekend always included dessert.  On this particular week, we made brownies and ice cream with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.  My mother was very complimentary of the dish.  To emphasize the point she had two large servings!

When she woke up the next morning and came into the kitchen, my mother discovered the pan with the few remaining brownies.  She had no memory of eating the brownies the night before and was dismayed, shocked, and downright outraged to find them there!  I assured her that she had not only partaken of the brownies but had even enjoyed seconds.  She eventually calmed down, and that is when she shared with me the real reason for her concern.  She was convinced that the rest of the family had gotten up in the middle of the night to have a midnight brownie party and that she hadn’t been invited!  To this day, it is not unusual for my sister, husband, or daughter to blurt out unexpectedly, “Y’all remember that time we had a midnight brownie party?” and then we smile and talk about the wonderful person that was my mother.

If you have a cherished memory of a loved one with dementia, whether the memory relates to their disease or was formed long before their diagnosis, we would love to hear from you.  Please check out our Facebook page and share your story during our Paint the Office Purple Week, September 17-21.  This week we are honoring loved ones with dementia and their caregivers, celebrating efforts to treat the disease, and fundraising toward the Knoxville Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

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