I grew up just a few blocks from my grandma my entire life. I mowed the lawn while she baked the cookies. I played house upstairs with my cousins while she played cards downstairs with our parents. Today I live with four roommates in a two-bedroom apartment while she lives with 10 roommates in a secured care unit in a nursing home. Dementia, initiated by a series of strokes from heart attacks, leaves her in a constant state of confusion and need. Physically she is fitter than most 79-year-olds, but everyday brings on new embarrassments and disorientations from the disease.
The power of perspective has helped my grandma and our entire family carry on with our lives in the best ways we know how. She knew she was losing memories and becoming more and more confused throughout the beginning stages, but her optimism and will to have a happy life kept her going. She would merely laugh a little and brush off instances of confusion and apologize to those around her for, as she would call it, her “silliness.” This attitude helped us all cope with the realities of the disease. Now that she no longer recognizes anyone but my parents, and believes they are her siblings, it is our duty to keep up the optimism and laughter whenever we can.
I believe in the power of perspective as our means to control our lives. Outside forces in this world can leave us feeling vulnerable and insignificant at times. Can we do anything about my loving and good-humored grandma losing her memories of fun card nights, family Christmases, or her children and grandchildren’s births? Absolutely not. Can we still visit her, share our lives with her, play games, and enjoy everything in the moment with her? Of course! How we choose to view life circumstances has power over how we experience them. My family chooses to feel blessed that she is so physically healthy. We choose to see her happy days as an opportunity to enjoy the moment together. We choose to view the bad days as they are a temporary moment in time, and we do what we can to turn them into good days.
The power of perspective gives us the ability to change life-altering diseases like dementia as well as daily happening like going to class or work. The ways in which we choose to view a situation dictates the outcome of situation and the experiences we will have in it. This power can be intimidating and energizing depending on how we choose to perceive it.
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