I read a post on LinkedIn recently that touched my heart and is the inspiration of this blog. It was a letter from a recent widower to a hairdresser who had made the experience of his wife’s last haircut one of the best moments of her life. He explained how his wife had dementia and he anticipated the experience of a haircut to be somewhat of an ordeal. To his surprise the hairdresser was a real pro, going above and beyond what she was required to do, and for the rest of that day his wife visited the mirror beaming at her new hairdo. An experience that he will remember with such fondness.
It might not sound like much to some people, but for me I know all too well how this man feels. My mother-in-law had Alzheimer’s. She was an amazing woman that I had known since my teenage years. I was lucky to have never considered her an “out-law”. She was a strong, passionate and giving person who has left me and my family with memories galore. During the last years of her life, the person we all knew and loved had transformed into someone who was uncooperative, aggressive, confused and unable to communicate. A lot of patience and compassion was required. She was rarely the woman we knew, but from time to time we would catch a glimpse of the woman we remembered.
My family often recalls occasions where she made us laugh, despite her condition. Anyone who knew my mother-in-law would say that she was a gentle and loving person, but one day we received a call from her care provider to advise us that she “aggressively” knocked another resident to the ground trying to get to something that they took from her. I’m sure it wasn’t funny at the time, but it definitely made us chuckle. There are many more funny stories, and I mean funny, but all in all the part of her life that I will remember most predates Alzheimer’s. We are forever grateful to her care providers who went the extra mile to show such patience and compassion.
As estates practitioners, we often focus on planning for death, but it is equally important to plan for life. It is essential that we discuss planning options with our clients and provide them with the necessary tools that will be required to deal with more challenging times.
As people, we need to thank others who have made a difference in our life and in the lives of our loved ones, and remember to go the extra mile to make a difference in the lives of others.