Gwendolyn de Geest, RN, BSN, MA
What are some of Rose’s favorite things?
And is she still able to enjoy some of these things?
Rose always had incredible energy and creativity. She spent
countless hours with the children, of course she was a mother
first, but Rose was very involved in community and school
committees. And she loved to entertain. Rose was always busy
helping others. Today, Rose still loves having people around
her. And she enjoys listening to stories.
Let’s talk about you for a moment Jack.
What things do you do to take care of yourself?
I read a lot. And I enjoy walking. I’m here at Rose’s side every
day, and when the weather warms up, I’ll take Rose outside to
the garden. We always enjoyed working in the garden together. I
What did you feel in that moment when
Rose puckered up for a kiss?
Our eyes connected briefly just before the kiss, and I thought
to myself, “I’ve got my Rose back once again.” I was so
astonished; I hugged her and said, “we really do love one
another, don’t we Rose?”
Your journey with Rose has encouraged so
many. What do you tell people who are angry?
I tell them that there is help and there is hope. I haven’t
worked it all out yet. I’m struggling. But on the good days, I
know that this Alzheimer disease has happened to my Rose for a
reason. And I’m grateful that we have this time together.
Communicating with the person with dementia can prove to be one
of the greatest challenges. This individual may no longer
communicate with words. Rather, they communicate with feelings.
Because of this, frustration levels can run high, both on the
part of the person with dementia and their caregiver. The
communicated message may not be received or understood. The
person with dementia may not be able to express themselves or
even complete a simple sentence.
Jack truly believes that Rose’s spirit is
alive and well. Sometimes, this is the only hope that families
When caregivers face this situation, they need to first assess
who is this person? Although the individual may not be speaking,
their body language is alive with feelings. Is the person happy,
sad? Are they moving around in an agitated manner? What are the
eyes saying? The eyes are the ‘windows of our soul.’ Jack has
learned to read the message in Rose’s eyes and her relaxed body
language. Jack discovers that he needs to pay particular
attention to Rose’s facial expression, as he notes “a special
little smile around Rose’s mouth…………”