Alden Boon

5 Life Lessons We Can Learn from Dementia Patients


Dementia is an ugly, terrible disease, but the minds it claims are not. Living with a dementia patient can take a toll on a caregiver. But there are lessons that we can learn from the patients, and we only need to lift the nebulous cloud to unveil the beauty.  

Celebrate the Smallest of Feats

One day my mother emerged from the bathroom, and was launching congratulatory fist pumps in the air. She felt accomplished because she wore her shirt correctly. A simple, thoughtless task that was her feather in the cap. Too often we get lost seeking grandiosity, and we find faults with our life. We belittle our seemingly-negligible progress. We ought to give ourselves a pat on the back every single day.

The Gift to be able to Forget

Forgive and forget. Let bygones be bygones. These are life lessons inculcated in us from young, but we hardly keep to them. We hold onto grudges, almost needlessly. Even when her nerves are frayed, my mother forgets all our pettiness, our flare-ups all in but five minutes. It’s like nothing had happened. If only we could all have the same reset button!

Savour the Memories

Dementia patients may not remember new encounters, but they sure love digging up the past. As we take on life at full throttle, we tend to lose sight of what’s important to us, of what used to be our anchors. Where did that little girl who aspired to “see and save the world” go? She’s crunching numbers, day in, day out. Is your life in the doldrums? Reconnect with your past to recharge for your future.

Slow Down 

We careen through life at the breakneck speed of a bullet train. We rush hither and thither, we mechanically sift through tons of emails at work and we don’t ever stop. Because of their condition, dementia patients are limited in their mobility. I used to scarf down my dinner in five minutes because I need to work on a deadline, but my mother’s condition has impelled me to take my time. Have dinner at the dining table, and stay there until everyone is done. Work can wait. Chew the food. Taste every subtle note. Swallow it. Enjoy the quietude. We have so little of it these days.

Be Afraid, but Do It Anyway

The thought of taking escalators blanches my mother; she approaches them as if she were going on a roller coaster. Descending the stairs scares her. But when push comes to shove, she crosses these everyday hurdles like a champion. What are your fears? Acknowledge them, embrace them and then conquer them.


Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.