I know that there is nothing funny about a diagnosis of dementia. it feels like the end of all that is joyful and bright in the world. It signals the inevitable death of a personality and years of endless caregiving. It is a trap capable of pulling an entire family into a thick fog of black ether. It breeds worry and anxiety, and if you aren’t careful, it can swallow you whole But by now you know my anthem. You know that I believe that joy and happiness are possible despite the hardships of this disease. I believe that we have the power to stop looking through a lens of negativity and focus on the existence of courage and hope. And with this hope, joy is made possible.
If you are really honest with yourself, you will admit that caring for a dementia patient can put you in some very outrageous situations. It took me a long time to allow myself to see the comedy in many of the predicaments I found myself in, and even longer to not feel guilty for noticing them. Only after pushing aside my guilt have I been able to laugh at some of the ridiculous circumstances I have landed in while caring for Nan. Truthfully, she can be very funny. Her responses are often so comical and my attempts to gain her cooperation are so absurd, that I have no alternative but to laugh.
Let’s face it. You can’t feel sad or anxious when you are laughing. Humor embraces our entire being and dissolves disturbing emotions. It allows us to shift our perspective in order to view our situation from a different angle. it recharges our batteries and makes every obstacle seem less daunting. When my husband and I giggle over one of Nan’s funny comments, we feel less overwhelmed by her disease and we view her and our family’s situation in a better light.
No matter what you find funny, read it, watch it, do it, enjoy it. Let yourself go. Have a good laugh from time to time. Tell a joke. Go to a comedy club. Laugh with your children. I guarantee that you will instantly feel better and that the hills before you will seem less steep. As a fellow caregiver, I am giving you permission to have fun and see the humor in the amusing things that your loved one says and does. After all, we are not laughing at them, we are laughing with them. And as Mark Twain so aptly put it, “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter. The moment it arises, all your irritations and resentments slip away, and the sunny spirit takes their place.”