A Box of Chocolates


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“Happy Mother’s Day!” the box of rich Godiva chocolates read. 

Like many of the residents, Lucy’s children had sent her cards or gifts for Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, the box of chocolates was not in Lucy’s diet plan. It wasn’t that Lucy couldn’t eat chocolates—it was because she had to have all of her food puréed.

Often, family members do not realize that a loved one with dementia has a dietary restriction. For this reason, it is not uncommon for managers at senior communities to open mailed packages before handing them to residents. 

The box of chocolates sat on my desk. I felt sad looking at it, knowing that Lucy could not eat the chocolates that her daughter had sent her. I could not find her daughter’s phone number, so I had no way of explaining my new dilemma to Lucy’s family. 

Instead I remembered a day when my last community had puréed cupcakes for residents who couldn’t eat regular cupcakes. 

I sent an email to our dining manager and asked about puréeing the box of chocolates. “Sure,” she wrote, “Bring them down here. I’ll mix them with whipped cream.”

Lucy was not aware that this past weekend was Mother’s Day. She did not know that she had received a box of chocolates in the mail. 

She did, however, enjoy eating the candy that her daughter had sent.

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

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