Dealing with Dementia
One of the most difficult things to witness is to watch a loved one, probably a parent, descend into the world of dementia. You see someone who you have loved and respected your whole life turn an invisible corner and disappear, even though the person is still in your presence.
Does this individual have trouble walking and talking at the same time? Perhaps he or she tries to cope by stopping dead still and asking “what?” so that you will repeat what you just said. This allows the person additional time to process what you said without seeming to do so. He or she will then answer your question before moving on. It has become too difficult to do more than one thing at a time, so the individual will use a coping mechanism to imperceptibly adjust to his or her new normal. You need to be aware of this change because it can signal what is coming next.
Does the person suddenly have trouble walking? This is also a sign that dementia is taking over the person’s life. It is now overtaking yours as well, if you are the caregiver. Your pace will have to slow down or you may contribute to the tripping hazard of an elderly person (though dementia patients are not always elderly) trying to keep up with you.
Does the loved one have trouble eating? Difficulty swallowing will come next, with the possibility of aspirating the food he or she has just chewed. Try to keep an eye on this or disaster could result.
These are hard things to watch, but I imagine they are even harder to live through. I have heard it likened to trying to draw a picture of something while observing the subject of the picture in a mirror. It is not for the faint of heart.
What tips do you have for dealing with the demne