When my Nanny (what I call my grandmother) was in her mid-sixties she spoke eagerly about travelling during her retirement. I always envisioned her and her friends travelling around the world visiting new places, bringing her grandchildren little souvenirs and sharing stories of her adventures.
When she was diagnosed with dementia shortly after, her plans changed. She did some travelling with her husband but never got to accomplish all the travels she dreamed of.
Fast forward a few years, a university degree and a startup that focuses on improving quality of life for individuals living with dementia. I now have the privilege of travelling to share the story of Marlena Books at conferences and events. Every time I travel I feel a pang of guilt for being able to see the world, something my Nanny was not given the privilege of completing.
When I return home I share my stories, of seeing new places and meeting people who are also living with Alzheimer's and dementia. I talk about sightseeing and hope for the future of dementia care while she does her best at listening. And each time, I bring her a little souvenir. Her room in her long-term care home is slowly being filled with postcards of places travelled. It's nothing much, but gives us a way to connect, and brightens her room.
The postcards have become our tradition. New Orleans, South Korea, New York and Chicago grace her wall. Although she can no longer travel, I plan to see the world for the both of us. I can't wait to see which city or country makes it up there next.
Do you have a special tradition you've created for your loved one living with dementia? Share with us below for a chance to be featured on the blog!