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Coping With Dementia With A Loved One Part 2:
 
# 1 : Wednesday 18-4-2012 @ 08:30
 
 
This is a follow on thread from the original one: https://www.gaire.com/e/f/view.asp?parent=1062622&nav=1

Here is a lovely clip of a man with obvious dementia, in a nursing home, as he reacts to hearing music from his era.

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# 2 : Wednesday 18-4-2012 @ 08:34
 
 
The community psychiatric nurse said that she was impressed at how calm and serene my mother was this morning when she came around to visit. When I explained about the relative on Saturday and how my mother reacted hostilely towards her, and about her view of the meds not working, the nurse took it all in.

She said something very interesting.

It was because I was calm and gentle with my mother, that she was calm and gentle, and happy.

The relative was stressed and annoyed, even though she tried to hide it. As a result, my mother became stressed and annoyed and now never stops giving out about her.

The nurse noticed that when I mentioned Saturday to my mother, my mother became quite irritable.

It is only a pity that the relative does not seem to take my point seriously about remaining calm.

So here's a tip... be calm and relaxed, and it might help soothe your loved ones with dementia/Alzheimer's. (I know, it does not always work.)
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# 3 : Wednesday 18-4-2012 @ 10:53
 
 
Intrepid,
these will be testing times, as you have already experienced, but the few rays of light will be worth the effort. Just be prepared for them to be getting scarcer as time goes by.
As long as you do not confuse her "quality of life" with yours, you will not be tempted to assume hers is diminishing faster that it actually does.

I wish you all the best, and I feel she could not be in better hands than yours.
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# 4 : Wednesday 18-4-2012 @ 11:49
 
 
Yes, that is a very good point, about looking on the person's quality of life as it pertains to THEM.
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# 5 : Wednesday 18-4-2012 @ 12:34
 
 
Hopefully it was just a once off and future visits will go smoothly. If not, it might be helpful if the psychiatric nurse had a chat with your relative either in person or by phone.
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# 6 : Wednesday 18-4-2012 @ 13:19
 
 
Very good point: the family member may be more receptive to someone they perceive as objective and "diploma" capable in the area of care.
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# 7 : Tuesday 5-6-2012 @ 00:48
 
 
Hmm... your mother is dead years and did not have that hairstyle since the 1950s. I can hazard a guess 'when' you are in your mind...
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# 8 : Wednesday 11-7-2012 @ 00:46
 
 
The Gardai are slipping in not bringing a confused little old lady home with them, when she was wandering to the police station. she could have wandered off elsewhere. mercifully she wandered back home, albeit on her own, to a relieved family.
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# 9 : Wednesday 11-7-2012 @ 01:04
 
 
Very tough gig you have Intrepid,makes me kinda tuck away my tiny tempah,not that you would listen anyway,unless I had the wavey hands that your sort of people demand,and never stop shouting about,do you hear what i'm saying,well do you,do you?
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# 10 : Wednesday 11-7-2012 @ 07:55
 
 
I saw my mother saturday, she is in good hands and still no change in her!
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# 11 : Saturday 20-10-2012 @ 14:55
 
 
I am trying to play music from youtube that is:

-soothing

-cheerful

-happy

-calming

I tried Schubert's Serenade, but my mother found it too upsetting for some reason, but for some reason she loved this one I came across when browsing on youtube.



she's also enjoying



Any other suggestions of music I can play for her?
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# 12 : Saturday 20-10-2012 @ 22:26
 
 
I'm crap at music Trep but sounds to me like you are doing a fab job. Wish you and your mam well xxx
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# 13 : Friday 7-12-2012 @ 21:43
 
 
cheers, Hex.
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# 14 : Friday 7-12-2012 @ 21:43
 
 
Looking after someone with dementia, there are three very very simple rules. Simple to say, sometimes difficult to do:

NEVER ask questions.
Not even "how are you?" no. That is a question. Better off to say, "oh, you look wonderful today!"

Learn from the expert, the person with dementia.
They are never wrong. If a mistake is made, you, the carer, would be well advised to say "oops, silly me!", you can afford to be wrong, the person with dementia cannot afford to be wrong at all, it would only destroy their self esteem.

Never contradict.
If they think they are at the airport go along with it. No harm is done to anyone. If you tell them crossly they are NOT at the airport, but at the supermarket, it will be a disaster. A lot of harm is done to the person with dementia.

Reading an excellent book on dementia. Hmm...

It's written by Oliver James, and it's called "Contented Dementia". Well worth a read.
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# 15 : Friday 28-12-2012 @ 09:22
 
 
Peter Pan an Alzheimer's patient?

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/12/peter-pan-alz etc ...

During a stretch in my life when you might suppose that children’s lit would have had its weakest hold on me—my twenties, with childhood solidly behind me and marriage and children not yet firming on the horizon—I idled my way through a number of old-fashioned classics. I read “Pinocchio” and “The Secret Garden” and “The Wind in the Willows.” I read “Heidi” and “Tom Sawyer” and “Kim” and “Penrod” and the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” “Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea.” “Little Women,” “Little Men.” “Black Beauty,” “White Fang.” I read Mary Mapes Dodge’s “Hans Brinker,” or “The Silver Skates” (1865), which popularized the tale of the civic-minded Dutch boy who steadfastly kept his finger in the dike, and which, unforgettably, offered a footnote acknowledging the historian Thomas Macaulay. (Oh quaint, vanished Victorian young reader, some Constance or Willkie, who might plausibly be led to Macaulay’s “History of England” by way of a novel about a Dutch ice-skating competition!)
I liked a good many of the books, but I’ve regularly gone back to revisit only two: Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” (1883) and J. M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” (1911). Islands chockablock with pirate treasure are notoriously elusive objects, drifting here and there on the map, yet one of the great pleasures of Stevenson’s classic is its fixity. Year after year, it remains the same book: a well-proportioned adventure story unfolded in a tone of brisk, tonic lyricism. (Stevenson is one of my favorite English stylists.)
“Peter Pan” is another matter: a different book whenever you pick it up. In this year, the seventy-fifth anniversary of Barrie’s death, I read it twice. Recent rereadings have left me increasingly feeling that the book’s preoccupation with forgetfulness—an utter lack of fixity—is a little chilling. Naturally, the book’s heroine, the levelheaded girl-child Wendy (an instinctive nanny and nursemaid, or, in modern parlance, a born primary care-giver) sees the issue most clearly. Peter’s hopeless. He can’t retain anything. I know of no other children’s book in which forgetfulness is so pervasive and disquieting a theme. Wendy begins fretting about Peter’s memory even before they reach the Neverland. While still in mid-flight, he seems to forget the names of Wendy and her two younger brothers. The book’s high jinks haven’t yet begun, and already, debating within herself, she’s worried about his ability to retain them: “ ‘—And if he forgets them so quickly,’ Wendy argued, ‘how can we expect that he will go on remembering us?’ ” Wendy is confronted with the prospect of Peter Pan, Alzheimer’s patient.
This may all sound terribly arch and glib (the boy who never grew up subsiding into a second childhood without ever leaving his first?), but anyone who has ever lived close beside the ravages of Alzheimer’s—as I did with my mother, who long suffered from it before dying two years ago—understands how little humor it provides. The disease consists of equal measures of despair and terror, with little room for levity.
Peter is hardly the only character subject to memory lapses. All of his compatriots in the Neverland, those Lost Boys whom Wendy eagerly adopts in her role of surrogate mother, spring from a hazy past. (The dialogue often sounds like something you might overhear in a nursing home: “ ‘John,’ he said, looking around him doubtfully, ‘I think I have been here before.’ ‘Of course you have, you silly. There is your old bed.’ ”)
Fearful at the way that her brothers, John and Michael, quickly start forgetting their pre-Neverland world, Wendy addresses the problem in her commonsensical fashion:
These things scared her a little, and nobly anxious to do her duty, she tried to fix the old life in their minds by setting them examination papers on it, as like as possible to the ones she used to do at school… They were the most ordinary questions—“What was the color of Mother’s eyes? Which was taller, father or mother? Was Mother blonde or brunette? Answer all three questions if possible.”
One is reminded of Macondo, the insomniac, amnesiac town in Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” where collective failings of memory become so severe that the town’s inhabitants take to marking familiar objects, both indoors (table, chair, clock) and outdoors (cow, goat, pig), with name tags. The trouble with this plan is that it presupposes everyone won’t forget the art of reading as well. (Similarly, my mother would ask me to write the names of her sons on the backs of old photographs, meaning thereby to keep our boyhoods straight.)
J. M. Barrie’s poignant symbol for memory loss is the inability to fly. In “Peter Pan,” children are able—with a little training, and maybe some fairy dust—to take to the sky. They lose this capability as they get older, however, partly as a result of simply growing too large. The weight of adulthood becomes synonymous with conformity and pedestrianism. One of the most haunting moments in “Peter Pan” arrives when Wendy, years after her sojourn in the Neverland, now an adult with a child of her own, is again visited by Peter: “He was a little boy, and she was grown up. She huddled by the fire not daring to move, helpless and guilty, a big woman…. Something inside her was crying, ‘Woman, woman, let go of me.’ ” A prisoner of her own voluminousness, she evokes the hero of another near-contemporary fantastic tale, the good doctor of Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Jekyll’s transformations into Hyde, initially voluntary, can hardly be an unalloyed pleasure—Hyde is, after all, repugnant to everyone he meets—but one aspect is ecstatic: the immediate shedding of adult poundage, the regaining of a child’s lithe quickness. The virtuous, stolid, earthbound doctor has his mischievous airborne youth restored to him, and so precious a commodity is youthfulness that it almost seems worthwhile to trade away for it one’s reputation and fortune, and, ultimately, one’s sanity and life.
To lose the ability to fly is to lose the supremacy of the imagination over reality: it’s the demise of enchantment itself. Peter has the keenest imagination of all the Lost Boys. Alone among them, he makes no distinction between a meal of real and imagined foodstuffs; for him, the conceptual and the tangible are interchangeable. He has the most at stake as adulthood beckons, and he’s the most determined to hold on to his boyish fabrications. He will not grow up. This may seem an easy way out of life’s difficulties, but Peter is also singular among the Lost Boys in suffering chronic nightmares, from which Wendy can only half protect him:
For hours he could not be separated from these dreams, though he wailed piteously in them. They had to do, I think, with the riddle of his existence. At such times it had been Wendy’s custom to take him out of bed and sit with him on her lap, soothing him… and when he grew calmer to put him back to bed before he quite woke up, so that he should not know of the indignity to which she had subjected him.
The riddle of his existence? Barrie, who can take an omniscient viewpoint with the most confident of authors, suddenly pulls back from judgment. It seems that if Peter refuses the burdens of adulthood, his refusal brings burdens of its own.
Wendy is a creature of aplomb and equability, who handles in her stride pirates and a surreally ticking crocodile and a near-fatal arrow to her chest. But at one point in the book she seems positively flummoxed. It involves another of Peter’s inattentions, only a year after their great exploits in the Neverland:
She had looked forward to thrilling talks with him about old times, but new adventures had crowded the old ones from his mind. “Who is Captain Hook?” he asked with interest when she spoke of the arch enemy. “Don’t you remember,” she asked, amazed, “how you killed him and saved all our lives?” “I forget them after I kill them,” he replied carelessly.
And a moment later, on the subject of fairies, Peter’s negligence seems almost cruel:
When she expressed a doubtful hope that Tinker Bell would be glad to see her he said, “Who is Tinker Bell?” “O Peter,” she said, shocked, but even when she explained he could not remember. “There are such a lot of them,” he said. “I expect she is no more.”
Given the governing tenet of Peter’s life—above all, he must never leave childhood—failures of memory are all but forced upon him. If he could recall his adventures, he would have a history; he would have an accumulating past, a sensation, synonymous with experience and aging, of events layered through time. Peter lives almost exclusively in the present: he is “tingling with life and also top-heavy with conceit.” Hence, for all his winsome arrogance, he must forever be relinquishing even the most glorious of his recollections.
My mother’s own Neverland was Iceland. Long a widow, she married again in her late seventies, to a man named Arthur who had once been a foreign correspondent. Arthur had seen much of the world, but not Iceland, a place my mother considered absolutely magical. She had visited it a number of times, years before, during intervals when I was living there. (It’s my own favorite island.)
As dementia gripped her more firmly, the once whimsical idea became an obsession: she must take Arthur to Iceland. There were plenty of times when she couldn’t remember the name of the country, but her wish was unmistakable and unshakeable: she would share with Arthur “that place.”
Well—this had all the makings of a disastrous journey (health problems, psychological problems, weather problems), and yet, one day, a wondrous afternoon arrived of surpassing luminosity. We’d bought the tickets, we’d boarded the plane. The three of us were on the south coast of Iceland, near the stunning rock formations of Dyrhólaey. We stood on a cliff, beside a lighthouse. On either side, the coastline outstretched before us in the sun. The cliffs, the rolling amphitheater of the sea, the blazing sky itself—everything had the burnish of beaten metal, the promise of brave durability. Peter Pan’s Neverland had nothing on us. “It’s unforgettable,” my mother kept saying, over and over. She was expressing another wish, although this one, alas, was not to be granted. For to the Alzheimer’s patient, it turns out nothing is unforgettable—not even, in the end, the name of your spouse or your son.
For the boy who never grows up, time scarcely exists. For the rest of us, time is piratical, and before making us walk the plank it would strip us of our every possession. If Peter rashly forgets the name of one of the immortal villains of children’s literature—our “man unfathomable,” who was “never more sinister than when he was most polite,” the peerless Captain Hook—the task falls on us to remember it for him. The more careless Peter becomes, the greater the burden on the careful reader. For it turns out that in literature, as in life, we’re sometimes asked to note and to ponder and to treasure the bedraggled adventures of someone who will not or cannot preserve them on his own.

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