If you are a caregiver for someone living with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia, you might be scratching your head, (or cussing me out), thinking “fall in love with dementia, is she nuts?”

I met “Joe” (not his real name), at my first job in senior living. Joe looked maybe 15 years older than I was at the time. What in the world? “Young-onset Alzheimer’s,” they explained to me. Anyone under the age of 65 that develops Alzheimer’s disease is considered young-onset. Joe’s wife was still working so the day program he was attending was a godsend to her as he could not be left home alone but wasn’t quite ready for a secured memory care community.

Joe loved his days at the community, and I fell in love with dementia for a second time. We had long conversations about his career and children and his love of sports. His memory was spotty, and while he couldn’t remember yesterday, he could tell me stories of his high school football victories. And Joe loved to dance! He danced with all the ladies with a smile was as big as the room. His wife was just amazed at how patient, kind and loving all the caregivers were. She felt guilty because so often, she was angry and frustrated. I tried to assuage her guilt by explaining that it is so much harder on her and the family, as we did not know Joe before dementia. We are not losing him slowly as they are, we just know and love him for who he is right now, a man who loves to share his stories and dance.

There are lots of people like me “who fell in love with dementia” working in senior living. Good senior living communities provide stressed-out caregivers a welcome solution offering a safe and loving environment with activities, new friends, consistent nutrition, cognitive and physical exercise, clinical and physical support, and dancing, lots of dancing. It might be worth a conversation.