Dementia and Lady-Links: Life and Chocolates

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You just never know what you’re gonna get.”  Recognize that quote?  It’s from the movie, “Forrest Gump,” which is one of my favorites.

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That quote can be interpreted many different ways, and I think the movie did a great job of showing how Forrest Gump took each event in his life and made it something positive.  That being said, I looked at a box of assorted chocolates recently trying to make a decision about which one to select. I thought about what Forrest Gump’s mother said, and I didn’t want to fall into the category of relying on “chance” to get what I knew I wanted.  My hope was that I would get a piece that had a creamy center.  That’s when I realized that there were clues to what was inside each piece if I only knew where to look.


Have you done that? Looked for clues to help make a good choice?  The most obvious suggestion is to look on the bottom of the box or inside the lid where sometimes a diagram with a description of each piece is given.  Since there wasn’t a diagram with this particular box of candy, I needed to rely on my observations such as shapes and sizes of each individual piece.  I made the smart decision to avoid the bumpy pieces since they most likely were filled with nuts so I looked for a rounded piece without the lumps.

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In other words, a trained eye can make a reasonable choice which will likely result in the desired outcome (deliciousness!)

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As I savored the piece that I had successfully selected according to my individual preferences, I thought about Lady-Links.  As we visit our dear friends with dementia, someone who isn’t familiar with us might conclude that we can’t possibly know “what we’re gonna get.”  Yet, Lady-Links are discerning enough (through our training, our experiences and our temperaments) to make choices that will lead to a successful outcome.  There are certain signs or clues we look for, thus preventing the anxiety of the unknown.


We set the stage for a successful outcome by learning all we can about dementia and planning carefully for each visit.  We have planning meetings, called Link-ups, several times a year where we have training sessions, dementia education updates, discussions and feedback regarding our approach to friendship visits with the ladies in our community who have dementia.  Within reason, “we know what we’re gonna get” and since reason doesn’t always fall in the same sentence with dementia, we prepare for those situations as well.  As a result, Forrest Gump’s mama might have to amend her advice when talking with Lady-Links to something like this, “Life is like a box of chocolates.  You Lady-Links probably know what you’re gonna get.”


Friends enjoying coffee.

Lady-Links are “chocolate-candy-picking experts” who I know would have walked over to sit beside Forrest Gump as he sat alone on that bench waiting for a bus to arrive.  We would have engaged him in conversation, eaten some of the chocolates he offered, and encouraged him along his journey.  As Lady-Links, we open each “box of chocolates” with confidence every time we visit our dear friends, knowing that our choices will be the best possible ones given the situation we’re facing.

Don’t let visiting a friend or loved one with dementia or even picking out a piece of chocolate from a box of unknowns overwhelm you. Learn all that you can and make the decision to go for it.  Try it, you’ll like it!

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