A web of relationships, tightly woven over decades. Strengthened with love and caring. Expanding in every direction. Ever increasing… more and more. Until one day when the center threads begin to fray. Eroded by dementia.
At first it is the overnight potato (pudding). Her grandchildren’s favorite. She makes it every time they come. Every single time. But this time she forgot. The noodle pudding was delicious but it was missing that special ‘I-love-you-and-make-this-especially-‘cause-you- like-this’ flavor.
Rina* has the lead in the school dance. She had shown her grandmother the steps each time they visited. Grandma would clap as Rina danced away. Rina basked in her Grandma’s admiration. But this time she said, “ Rina, you know how to dance? I didn’t know that.”
The family tries to hold on tight as the threads begin to unravel one by one. It’s a lonely, frightening process. And support is so desperately needed. Ezer Mizion’s Golden Age Division has undertaken a weekly club for those with an early stage dementia that are still able to communicate with those around them. The club operates one afternoon a week, under the direction of social worker Adi Karbel and Atara (a student of social work), and with the help of our dear, devoted volunteers.
About 10 women participate in the club on a regular basis. The club provides a warm, family environment for them with activities geared their cognitive level.
This Chanukah, a party took place that far surpassed everyone’s expectations. Extended family was invited. That means children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Surrounded by the efforts of a lifetime, among the presence of her peers, each woman radiated sheer joy. The happiness of being together would have been ‘dayenu’ (sufficient) but there was more to come. As the highlight of the program, the grandchildren were asked to say something about their grandmother. Each grandmother responded by expressing what her family means to her. That was when the tears began to flow from the eyes of each of the organizers. The children poured out buckets of love and received a heaping helping of love in return. Each ‘gift’ was heart-wrenching. At times, when words could not be found, the eyes “spoke,” loud and clear. Those delicate threads, of late beginning to wear, were reinforced into girders of steel by the earnest offerings of genuine love bonding the generations.
Many thanks to the club staff whose caring and creativity constantly move the members forward, trying to stem the tide in their battle against the demon named Dementia.