There’s an old Christian song rattling around in my mind today, particularly these two lines:

“We’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love…”

If ever there was a by-line for my care of my father-in-law it is definitely “guarding each one’s dignity and saving each one’s pride.” For as dementia wears away at his cognition, bit by bit his ability to take care of himself is also being worn away. The other day as I watched nearby, he made himself some toast and butter and then as an after thought he went and got some honey. By the time he was finished there was honey all over the place and buttery crumbs in the jar. But he felt so good about just taking care of himself.

I remember once taking his late-wife to see a social worker who helped her adjust to the realities of her declining situation. Her advice to her was to accept where she needed support but to fight to keep her independence whenever possible. I took that advice to heart too and have since always tried to let them do whatever they could, even when it was far from perfect. Their contentment and well-being trumped the need for tidiness in our home. And if I have to go around quietly behind cleaning up little messes, well that is okay too. And, if something embarrassing happens like a bathroom accident, I simply downplay it saying this has happened to me too (missing the toilet for example) and not to worry!

So I “guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride” in our loving home where everyone gets to feel as well and as good about themselves and their home as possible.

Originally written August 2, 2020

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