For many years I have been trying to comprehend how a person with dementia relates to his/her world, and how that world shrinks for them at an untouchable increasing pace. For more than a decade now I have been interacting and counselling many who suffer from dementia. Not only them but also their families and friends, I have walked alongside them the long walk of seeing a dear one whose known world is slipping away.
More than once I have asked myself how a person with dementia really sees me; or how effective are my words of encouragement; or if I am making any difference in their lives. I know I am not the only one thinking this way; many times I have had these conversations with their family and friends.
In my experience I have found something to be true, even though memories get erased, and faces are no longer familiar, and words lose their meaning, the intrinsic humanity does not get affected. Even though the body seems not to respond, the very essence of a person’s soul does not change.
Let me explain it in this way: when we come into the world, we have no memories, no speech, no language and no mobility, we do not know faces and we don’t know the function of any of our senses. We are totally blank, yet we can perceive the touch of a caring parent. As babies, we can sense tension and strife, fear and neglect, and definitely we can perceive love and care. Even before we can respond with emotions we can absorb emotions, and before we know the meaning of words we are able to feel and grasp the intention of the words spoken to us. This is our inherited raw humanity that transcends words in any language to the universality of our human soul. This is what I am calling the very essence of a person’s soul. It has been there from the moment of our conception, and will be there until the moment we become free from our body. As a person discontinues the regular synapsis and memories begin to vanish, faces and words become strange, and the body forgets how to express itself, the ability to perceive the world as babies does not change. The soul inside is intact and able to discern care, love and the intention of a friendly voice.