A Relationship of Souls


by Anna Bolen 

How much of the Alzheimer’s and Dementia struggle is about the caregiver? As caregivers, we need to be willing to move toward the unknown and that is a scary place. Accepting this is accepting their loss and our loss. It represents a shift in the relationship we may not be ready for. That acceptance may be heartbreaking, but it is the starting point for care. Enter into their reality because it is as real to them as ours is to us.

As humans, we all yearn for unconditional love and to be accepted and remembered. However, the Alzheimer’s and Dementia patient’s memory diminishes over time and therefore, we must remember they simply cannot. Their forgetting does not diminish the previous value, relationship, person or thing. We don’t want to believe that we can be so easily forgotten and have an intense need to be remembered and acknowledged. They simply cannot remember.

Our relationship may shift from one grounded in current events and past experiences to a relationship of souls.

Let go of your name and expand your identity. We are afraid to leave our name. We fear leaving the old dynamic of our relationship. Our clinging solely to the roles of the past inhibits the growth and evolution of our new relationship. We have to trust enough to meet them where they are. Our relationship may shift from one grounded in current events and past experiences to a relationship of souls. That is a great leap. The disease gives caregivers an opportunity to live in the moment and embrace those moments as opportunities to create meaning and joy. Give them the gift of recognizing what they are right now. This is the last stage of a long life.

Relationships often define who we are- relationships with family, between residents, among friends and with staff. Its quality moments spent with others that truly celebrate a life well lived with great activities, the best of care, beautiful surroundings and delicious meals. At JEA Senior Living, we believe meaningful experiences are enhanced by those that surround us. Our philosophy of care, Meaningful Moments, focuses on residents’ psychological, social and spiritual needs by providing a customized program of activities. Everyone has a unique personal history, and we’ve found that the more we honor each resident’s life story, the more successful we are with their day-to-day living experience.

This foundation helps to create a new home setting. Our facilities are relatively small and simple by design, maximizing opportunities for interaction with family, visitors, staff and fellow residents. Ashley Gardens develops a personalized program for each resident’s specific interests and experiences. Family members of all ages are an integral part of our program and are encouraged to visit and participate. We engage residents in an array of diverse activities that include cooking demonstrations, singing, pet visits, relaxing in the courtyard, gardening, exercising and enjoying a movie night.

For more information on our Meaningful Moments program, please call (843) 556-8100.