noun

a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

We all drive by hospitals and nursing homes these days and see signs stating: Heroes Work Here. And I start wondering, where are the signs that should be in front of so many homes? People who are diagnosed with dementia are brave. Their family members who love and care for them are brave. They are the unsung heroes that most do not see.

What once was normal is no longer. The brave face these changes minute by minute. Dementia saps the energy from all, it can make what once was possible now impossible. They take the tragedy in front of them and adapt and change their lives to accommodate what is happening at that moment.

Arthur Kleinman, a well-known psychiatrist, writes, “We have gone through feelings of loss, anger and frustration. We have been marked by a special kind of pain. But we have also experienced a deepening sense of responsibility, gratitude for all that we had lived through together, love, solidarity, and a shared sensibility that we have resisted what is beyond our control and are, individually and collectively, more for it.”

So, here’s to our unsung heroes: men and women with dementia, and their families who care for them. They may not have a sign in front of their home stating that Heroes Live Here, but they put on their invisible superhero capes daily and start anew.