She Said Yes: A Healing Conversation with Alzheimer’s

This post was contributed by Healing Conversations Now Reader, Aaron W.  Please keep your stories coming!

The substance of relationship is communication. Even our shared history with loved ones is shaped and remembered through language. This is the reason that healing conversations have such transformative power, because through conversation we can complete past conflicts and create the space for deeper love. So what happens when language fails us? Are people without words excluded from healing conversations? One in every eight older Americans are living with Alzheimer’s Disease. This means that many of us are dealing with older family members and friends that are facing the end of their lives while dealing with the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Communication goes beyond language. Communication comes from the body as much as the mind. Consider how much is communicated by the eyes, the posture, hand movements, etc. A slight lean in to your conversation partner, deep eye contact, and a light touch of the hand can communicate a deep connection. I’d like to share a story to illustrate. I was visiting an older woman who had served a mentor to me in school, and was now in a day treatment facility because of her advanced stage of Alzheimer’s Disease. I knew this could be one of our final visits, as she had been in and out of the hospital with failing organs. Unsure of how to connect with her, I flailed around from one topic to the next looking for resonance, a glimpse of recognition. I asked her about her day, told her about my relationship, even tried to explain my research to her. Finally, in desperation I leaned in to meet her eyes and touched her shoulder. She looked back at me with clear, smiling eyes and said “Yes honey, yes.” A few weeks from the end of her life, she said yes.

What has your experience been with being in conversation with a loved one struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease?

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