Visiting Memories: Thoughts From a Woman With Dementia

By Lisa Pahl, LCSW

Over the years, I have worked with countless individuals who live with a Dementia diagnosis. Within hospice, some people’s terminal diagnosis is Dementia (and it’s very late stage). Other times, a person has another terminal illness and dementia is a secondary diagnosis. In these cases, the dementia symptoms may range from mild to severe.

One woman that I visited years ago was on hospice with Congestive Heart Failure and Dementia. She was able to still carry on a conversation at times. Like many individuals with dementia, she was able to remember experiences from when she was young much better than what took place that day.

I asked her about her life when her children were young. She smiled and replied, “I visit that memory every once in a while.” She stared wistfully in the distance and admitted that she cannot recall memories consistently. “But, sometimes I get to visit that memory before I lose it again.”

It’s been at least seven years since we’ve had that conversation and I can still remember it so clearly because of the poetry in her words and the clarity that she had to be able to describe her experience so beautifully.

If you are living with dementia, or care about someone who is, both Compassion and Choices and The Conversation Project have dementia specific tools to help talk about end-of-life preferences.

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