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One of the worst things that you can do to a person who lives in long-term memory care is to remind them that they live in long-term memory care. Most of my residents with dementia still believe that they live at home, so it’s very confusing for them to hear otherwise.

“Hey. What are we doing here? Why are we here?” JoAnn asked. 

“Well, mom, we’re visiting you. This is where you live,” JoAnn’s daughter explained, slowly.

JoAnn has Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t understand or realize that she lives in a memory care community. JoAnn also has a lot of trouble hearing, so you have to get pretty close to her to speak. When she likes something that you tell her, she’ll touch her forehead to yours. 

As JoAnn’s eyes narrowed, and a concerned look crossed her face, I decided to step in. JoAnn’s daughter wasn’t doing her mother any favors by “reminding” her about the memory care community, and I didn’t want to see this negative situation play out.

“JoAnn, you’re here to hang out with me,” I smiled. “I want to spend time with you." 

Her eyes lit up and a smile grew on her face. "Oh, good. You’re the sweetest!” she exclaimed, and pulled me in, touching her forehead to mine. 

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Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. She owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting company.

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I wrote this poem years ago, but to date, it’s the most popular piece I’ve ever created.

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