Select a page
Type too small?

“How can we accept, love and interact with those affected by dementia?” and “Ready to See the World”

This column begins with an excerpt from an essay written by Bev Cooper. The question which is evoked in her work is “How can we accept, love and interact with family members and friends who have dementia?”

Dads Silent Voice

I feel that some of the people who pass me by think that I am just a body in a wheelchair parked in the hallway of a nursing home. My head droops and I wear a bib and I drool. My vision is poor. My hearing isn’t much better. I want to communicate, but the words don’t come out. I don’t smile anymore. I was a person. I lived a full life. My wife Leah and I raised four children. We worked hard for a living. We volunteered in the Jewish Community. I retrieve fragmented memories, imagination and dreams which carry me through. Each day I travel to those places. They have become my reality…
…I often feel ignored. I know that I am not just a blob in a wheelchair. I know that I am more. So, please talk to me. Please tell me my stories that I loved to tell. Please hold my hand. Please give me a hug. Please sing a song with me… 


Dear How can we accept, love and interact with those affected by dementia?

Bev Cooper has captured with empathy and compassion, her father’s state of mind. It is incumbent on us, the healthy and the strong, to accept and assist those who struggle with the ravages of dementia. How are we to interact? My advice is to be courageous, to leave behind denial, that is, pretending you won’t get it, or pushing aside some strange behaviour that you have noticed in yourself or not having that test that the Doctor suggested. I urge you to educate yourself, prepare yourself, talk about it, and get to know those who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Louise Penny’s essay “The Last Promise” discusses the ‘new normal’ of her husband Michael Whitehead’s deteriorating condition as a result of Alzheimer’s (AARP the Magazine, October/November .

Elaine Campbell’s painting “My Messengers of Gratefulness to Ward off Bitterness (our cover), Resentment, Indifference and Self Pity” represents a plea to be grateful for our lives and blessings and not to become complacent, arrogant or uncaring of those less fortunate. When you are knowledgeable, accepting and compassionate, you are ready to interact with those you know and (consider this) those you do not know who have dementia. The Louis Brier Home and Hospital is always looking for volunteers.


Dear Hannah,

We have sold our large home in Vancouver and moved to a modest condo in our neighbourhood. My wife and I are ready to travel. We are both in our early 70’s and want some advice as to suitable travel ideas for “seniors.”

– Ready to See the World


Dear Ready To See The World

I recommend River Cruises and Cruises in general! Here is an opportunity to get comfortable on board, and then cruise along the rivers of Europe, Russia and Asia; or visit the towns along the French, Italian and Mexican Riviera; or steam through the Panama Canal between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. As a couple or as a group of friends, these cruises take the hassle out of travelling. A travel agent can do the initial research and guide you to tours specifically designed for seniors. If you know your way around the Internet, you can find a large variety of group expeditions and cruises, and book it yourself.

Do you and your wife want a “travel companion” to guide you through a country? I suggest that you contact Doug Iannelli, owner of Flying Companions He is not alone in providing these services. There is money to be made in catering to aging populations who have leisure time and money but diminished capacity for the rigors of travel such as moving through airport security lines, managing luggage and navigating busy terminals and bustling hotel lobbies (Julie Weed, Travel Companions Offer a Way for Older People to Keep Moving, The New York Times, Sept. 26, 2016).

Bon Voyage!

Hannah, M.Sc. Counselling