My Dad will be 93 in a few short months. At 89 he started becoming forgetful. Now he has full blown dementia. He knows who I am when he sees me. I'm so happy for that. But, he doesn't remember anything from one minute to the next. I'm not sure he knows my name. But, he does know I'm his daughter. He doesn't know that I don't live with him in Florida. I have to remind him that I am visiting.
Possibly due to the fact that he was the most fabulous father, a loving husband, an officer, and a gentleman all his life that he is "pleasantly" confused. Some adults with dementia aren't pleasant...just the opposite. They can become very mean and nasty and difficult to be around.
As a nurse, I'm well aware that keeping Dad in his environment helps him immensely. If we would have moved him out of his home and into an assisted living situation, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have done as well as he has. He has a "routine." That is so important for those with little memory left.
Dad has enough memory left to know he can't remember anything and that is SCARY to him. I think of it as waking up with amnesia. How scary would that be? When he becomes anxious he taps his fingers. When he becomes scared, he belches like he is going to have a heart attack and also says, "I can't see." My brother Jim and I understand these anxieties.
The first time the oral surgeon gave Dad something to relax him, Dad said, "I can't see, I'm blind." Imagine how the oral surgeon felt! LOL Thankfully, his father has Alzheimer's and he is wonderful with Dad. Jim, my brother said, "Daddy...do you know what time it is?" Dad looked at his watch and said, "It's 27 minutes past 2." The oral surgeon breathed a sigh of relief. ;) There is nothing wrong with his vision for his age. It is his way of expressing his fear of the unknown. And, with dementia, almost everything is an unknown.
We constantly tell him how wonderful he is, how handsome he looks, and we reassure him when we go out in public that we will introduce everyone to him. He doesn't need to remember any names. We will say the name of the person who comes up to him so he will know who they are. We let him know he doesn't have to do the entertaining. We are there to entertain him.
Please remember if you have a loved one or know someone with dementia to try to understand what it is like for them. Consistency, routine, quiet time, and a loving environment are so very important.
Thanks for listening. :0)