Monday, October 28, 2013


By Carol Howell

I love Chinese Food.  I especially enjoy sushi rolls.   Fortune cookies, on the other hand, are disgusting.  Most of the time, the fortune inside of them says something that isn' a fortune at all.  For example, it might say “You have character”.  That is NOT a fortune.  If it said, “You have character that will lead to great success,” THAT would be a fortune.

Recently, my fortune said, “You will soon be receiving some good written advice.”  I have high hopes that written advice will look something like this.  “Dear Mrs. Howell, we are pleased to announce you have won a gazillion dollars in the ‘Win A Bunch’ sweepstakes.”  Yes, oh yes!  That would be some “good written advice”.  In the meantime, I have decided to use that fortune and this blog to bring you, my reader, some good written advice.

I recently watched the movie “1,000 Words”, with Eddie Murphy.  He portrays a character who, among other things, visits his mother with dementia.  She thinks he is her husband, and he continues to insist he is Jack, her son.  This, of course, does not settle well with her, confuses her, and causes the visit to be less than what Jack had hoped it would be.
When visiting with someone who is not living in the here and now, allow them to set the tone and character of the conversation.  If they believe you to be someone other than who you are, go with the moment.  Dust off your acting skills, smile, and be whomever they seem to think you resemble.  The process may not seem like fun, at first, but watching your loved one smile, liven up, and have a few moments of happiness is really what your visit should be about, anyway.

Eddie Murphy’s character, Jack, had some education ahead of him before he figured out this technique.  You, on the other hand, have just been the beneficiary of the fortune from my recent Chinese food experience.  Please put this “good written advice” to work. 
 Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.

Carol Howell is a Certified Dementia Specialist and Music Therapy Coach.  Her book - If My Body Is A Temple, Why Am I Eating Doughnuts? - is available for e-readers at and .  Her latest book, LET'S TALK DEMENTIA - A Caregiver's Guide is a help for those peripherally affected by dementia, written with her characteristic humor. Contact her at or read more at   


Linda Lange said...

I have a relative who's heading that way, so I'll keep your advice in mind. Meanwhile, your fortune cookie commentary reminded me of the day I received an empty one. When I complained, the waiter brought a second cookie. I cracked it open and read, "Great fortune will come to you if you wait patiently." A legitimate fortune!

H. Kirk Rainer said...

This may work unless they demand to see the actual you, and then comes the possibility of playing both--at the same time.

Now that's love.

Caroline said...

Good advice. Sometimes it's easier and nicer to just play along. Thanks for the reminder.

Claude Nougat said...

I love the irony in the way you deliver your advice, well done! And thaks for sharing.