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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Huelat

A Valentine's Love Letter

It was a challenging day, my soulmate lost in the confusion of dementia. To add to the difficulty, it was Valentine's Day. The irony struck hard – my life partner, business ally, and closest friend could no longer express his love, contemplate a Valentine's Day card, or appreciate flowers. Must dementia rob us of our love, in addition to stealing his memories? I felt a profound sense of sadness, abandonment, and intense loneliness. How does one sustain love when their lover battles dementia?


A dementia diagnosis does not signal the end of love and affection. As humans, we all crave love and affection to survive and flourish. While those with dementia might struggle to express these needs, the desire for connection remains. Let me share three insights to keep the flame of love alive with your loved one.


1.     Adaptation is Key: Maintaining a loving bond requires adaptability. Explore creative ways to express love, recognizing that each relationship is unique. Whether through hugs, holding hands, sharing an old favorite movie, or even enjoying a close dance to a cherished song – find what resonates. Consider surprising them with a sweet and sentimental card or a quirky teddy bear gift to evoke a responsive smile. Delight in shared treats; his favorite chocolate pudding may still bring joy. Revisit activities you both enjoyed, and don't hesitate to indulge in self-love. Recreate date nights, even if at home, and reminisce about old times. Be kind to yourself first; your positive emotions are contagious.


One heartwarming suggestion is to write a love letter to your beloved, a personal keepsake for yourself. You don't need to send it. Reflect on the reasons that led you to your original love and recall the good times, silly laughter, shared trips, and romantic moments. Express your feelings authentically. This letter can serve as a source of comfort during challenging times, a reminder of the profound love you shared.


2.     Live in the Present, Cherish the Past: Resist the tendency to hyper-focus on the challenges of dementia. Dwelling on the disease and its symptoms can lead to a dark spiral. Acknowledge the present, finding joy where you can. Embrace your loved one's ability to live in the moment, free from the burdens of past or future concerns. By accepting this nature of the disease, you can join them in savoring and creating moments of joy.


3.     Communicate and Seek Support: Share your feelings with trusted family and friends. Seeking help from professionals can provide valuable guidance in navigating the emotional challenges that caregiving entails. Love, emotions, and feelings are genuine and crucial for survival and well-being. Celebrate the love you shared yesterday while creating new expressions of love today. Remember, you are not alone – engage your support team and celebrate Valentine's Day and this season of love



Dancing with loved one
Keep love alive

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For further insights into the Art of Caregiving, refer to my book, "Taming the Chaos of Dementia: A Caregiver's Guide to Interventions that Make a Difference." Additional resources are available on my website, www.barbarahuelat.com.

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