a blog about Kilt and her kids plus Trouble our JRT mascot.

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Sequim, Washington, United States

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dementia


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)


4 comments:

jorbar said...

I lost two of my grandparents to dementia; I often think it was harder on the family then them. I remember how they often struggled to communicate but always where happy to be with us. Thanks for sharing, it brought back some nice and some not so nice memories.

gvmama said...

My brother has a hard time with it when he sees glimpses of his "old dad"....then he slips away again. It's tough on everyone.

Erin O said...

My Gram had Alzheimer's, when she completely forgot my name she always knew I was the who rode the horses. I guess even though my name was gone she still knew who I was. The mind hangs onto funny things :) It was like trying to tune a radio to a far off station lot of crackle and fade with just little snip its of the "old Gram".

gvmama said...

So true Erin...good analogy. Dad still loves dogs and horses...even watching horse shows on TV, because that's what we did all my life. It must trigger something in the subconscious. :0)