Morning can be a really tough time for our aging loved ones struggling with Alzheimers or other forms of dementia. As both the body and the mind effectively reset after a night of sleep, many may need help to “break through the morning fog of forgetfulness that can often cause them agitation and fear.”
Why am I here? How did I get here? How am I supposed to get through this day? These and other questions--not to mention feelings of loneliness, abandonment, even anger--all combine to make the common admonish to “rise and shine” seem nearly impossible.
One innovative elder-care program in the Bronx, NY, is piloting a new program which seeks to allay some of this anxiety and to help patients set the mood to have a much calmer, more satisfying day. The Hebrew Home of Riverdale is inviting patients’ loved ones to film “Good Morning” video messages filled with comforting words, reassurances that they are loved, that they are not alone, that they are cared for. The videos are to be laced with memory triggering personal anecdotes, and, of course, the faces and voices of those who have lovingly and faithfully been by their sides.
"You've got a group of people with dementia who don't really grasp the nature and purpose of their surroundings, or the circumstances that compelled them to be there," said Dr. Robert Abrams, a geriatric psychiatrist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. "Consequently they're alone and at sea, and feel frightened and even abandoned by family."
The videos were actually inspired by none other than the pop culture, classic movie 50 FIRST DATES starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. In the movie, Barrymore’s character suffered traumatic brain injury and lost her memory. Sandler’s character made her “Good Morning” videos to play upon waking in an effort to put her day—indeed, her life—in proper context.
Charlotte Dell, director of social services at the Hebrew Home comments, "We're looking to see if we can set a positive tone for the day. … What better way to start the day than to see the face and hear the voice of someone you love wishing you a wonderful morning?"
For many patients, the videos are helping them to accept that their life and circumstances are not actually reeling out of control (though they might seem that way). They are helping them to achieve a greater sense of peace and security.
Truth be told, you don’t need to be aging or ailing to wake up in the morning in a fog of forgetfulness, anxiety or fear. Why am I here? How did I get here? How am I supposed to get through this day?
The everyday circumstances, stresses, and trials of life can throw anyone into a fog. We often can't seem to "grasp the nature and purpose of our surroundings, or the circumstances that compelled us to be there. ... Consequently we feel alone and at sea, and feel frightened and even abandoned" by God. We awaken fretful about all that happened yesterday, worried about how we’ll get through today, and anxious about the cares of tomorrow—and we haven’t even stepped out of bed yet!
Spending time first thing in the morning with our Savior is like looking into the comforting face and hearing the familiar voice of our ultimate Loved One, reassuring us that we are loved and we are not alone. Reading His Word can trigger memories that He has lovingly and faithfully been by our side all along—life and circumstances are not actually reeling out of control (though they might seem that way). We can choose to set a “positive tone” for the day. As Director Dell concluded, “What better way to start the day than to see the face and hear the voice of someone you love wishing you a wonderful morning?”
1 O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
4 Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.
6 When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
7 Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
8 My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.