When our loved one with dementia asks the same question or tells the same story over and over, or fails to recognize us, we have a hard time responding in love.
Repeat conversations can be hard to bear, but for our loved one, this is the first time. If we can focus on her world and not ours, if we can remember to answer a question or listen to a story as if it was the first time, we can stay calm and blame the disease.
I cannot imagine what a brain with dementia feels like. I do know what severe migraines feel like and marvel my mother could function as well as she did. I tried to move the conversation along, but some days, we had many practice sessions.
If a loved one with dementia develops a tic or repetitive motion, this might be calming and soothing. If we can understand our loved one shredding rubber bands or tearing paper into bits helps her stay calm, we can as well. As long as no harm is done and she is safe--that is the goal.
Our loved ones with Alzheimer's type diseases have a difficult time accessing their information areas. During the last years of my mother's life we would have a great visit and toward the end she would ask, "Did I marry? Did I have children?" Remember she always greeted me with, "I am so glad you are here." Did she not know me? Had she forgotten? In some sense she had.
Her cognitive mind could no longer access my name or how I was related to her, but her emotional mind knew I was safe and we belonged together.
I always smiled and said, "Yes, Mom. You married, had four daughters and I am one of them. You were a wonderful mother." She would smile, nod her head and say, "I thought so," with relief in her eyes. I wiped the tears from mine. Soon after I would escort her to the dining room and kiss her goodbye.
If your loved one, at the end of a visit, asks you who you are--do not get offended. She is trying to place you in her world and give context to your wonderful visit. Smile and tell her how important she is to you.
Welcome to the blog page for Biblical Dementia Caregiving. It is a resource to come alongside as you walk the dementia journey with your loved one. My name is Dorothy Gable and I wish to help, encourage and share the lessons we learned caring for my mother with dementia. For more of my story, please see the About page in this website.