If your mom or dad suffers from dementia, you know how upsetting and lonely it can be to watch their progression as you try to be a positive and supportive caregiver. Recently, singer-songwriter Amy Grant went public with her struggle watching first her mother, and then her dad, succumb to its symptoms – and what this very difficult experience taught her. Because people’s response to her story has been so powerful, we thought we’d share it with you.
Amy’s mother’s struggle began first, in her 70s, with episodic instances of confusion and altered reality. She was soon diagnosed with Lewy Body, a form of dementia where symptoms are not constant, and where episodes of confusion and even hallucination can last for hours, or even days.
Her Dad, a highly-regarded oncological radiologist, soon followed – first with what seemed like age-appropriate confusion and forgetfulness. But his symptoms quickly became full-blown, involving loss of short- and long-term memory, as well as episodes of ephasia and incoherence. He exhibited wild personality changes, as well; Grant talks of one instance early on where her normally-frugal dad impulsively overpaid for a home that he didn’t even need.
After struggling with “why?” and “how could this possibly happen to both of them?” Amy describes desperately trying to find meaning somehow. Her turning point came during a conversation with an old friend. “I know this is hard,” her friend told her, “but this will be the last great lesson you’ll learn from your parents.” She and her sisters became determined to somehow, amid their grief and frustration, learn to embrace the moment with both their mom and dad.
When her mother’s health started failing, Grant brought her into her own home with hospice and invited friends and family in to share memories, hold her mom’s hand, and sing to her. She rarely opened her eyes, Amy says, but her breathing slowed and her demeanor relaxed as if she were hearing every word.
Since her mother’s passing, Amy and her siblings focused on determining the best possible living situation for their father, placing him in an apartment with round-the-clock care. As an artist, she also took solace in writing about her parents’ decline, recording the highly-personal and biographical album How Mercy Looks from Here.
You can watch Amy Grant share more lessons learned here and can read more about her journey by following these links: