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The Best Care for Dementia: Appropriate Kindness

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Bismillah walhamdolillah.

Margaret Nance was, to put it mildly, a difficult case. Agitated, combative, often reluctant to eat, she would hit staff members and fellow residents at nursing homes, several of which kicked her out. But when Beatitudes nursing home agreed to an urgent plea to accept her, all that changed.

Disregarding typical nursing-home rules, Beatitudes allowed Ms. Nance, 96 and afflicted with Alzheimer’s, to sleep, be bathed and dine whenever she wanted, even at 2 a.m. She could eat anything, too, no matter how unhealthy, including unlimited chocolate.

It is an unusual posture for a nursing home, but Beatitudes is actually following some of the latest science. Research suggests that creating positive emotional experiences for Alzheimer’s patients diminishes distress and behavior problems. From the New York Times.

It’s a beautiful article revealing how important it is to be deferential to our elders especially when they are at their least independent. Revealing that even if an elderly person has proven-diminished faculties from Alzheimer’s or other causes of dementia, that the best treatment is not to force them to conform strictly to what a caregiver deems appropriate.

Rather what is appropriate is kindness and deference. Alhamdolillah my parents are well, and I pray the same for your parents. Yet I am reminded that such care is exactly what Allah subhanahu wata ala enjoins upon all of us regardless of our parents’ condition:

And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.

But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do.(Sahih International translation of Surah Luqman ayat 14-15)

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O Allah care for our parents as they used to care for us, and make us pleasing to you and to them in our manners. O Allah, Who taught our parents so much love and forgiveness for us, open our hearts to our parents and forgive us whenever we forget or err. Ameen.

Help Us End Ramadan with 1000 Supporters!

Alhamdulillah, we're at 900 supporters. Help us get to 1000 supporters before Ramadan ends. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Bismillah walhamdolillah. May Allah accept my repentance and yours. I am an attorney, a stepfather, a husband, a son, and a Muslim. Studying Islam is a means, reflecting what I have learned is a must, and to Allah is the inevitable return. If you would like my help, know that Allah is the source of all aid. If you would like to contact me, try tariqnisarahmed at Gmail, LinkedIn, Twitter, or add me as a friend on Facebook.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. TiredSoul

    June 4, 2018 at 6:36 AM

    Seems easier to say than those of us who actually have to live with a person with dementia.

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