1.         Let me off the hook.

No, I can’t remember that. No, I don’t know who that is. No, I can’t figure out how to do this. Please stop being surprised when I can’t recall something or understand something. It’s to be expected. Dementia is the condition of losing memory and losing rational thought, so I will continue to remember less and continue to understand less. It hurts me when you go to such pains to show me that I’m failing.

And please, please stop trying to teach me things. I can’t learn new things anymore. I won’t ever get better at remembering, or reasoning, or following a list of instructions. Don’t test my memory. Testing improves memory in healthy brains, not those already experiencing dementia. I need you to partner with me, not correct or instruct me.

  1.         See me. I’m not gone yet.

I am me. I’m still myself. I may be losing my memory and memories, but I still experience them. Please understand this: the part of me that experiences life is fully intact. Even if I don’t remember what we said and did this morning, it doesn’t mean I didn’t experience it with you. That experience is affecting my mood now. I was just as fully there as you were, maybe more so, and I am fully here in this moment, too.

  1.         Help me, don’t prevent me.

We have two types of thought processes—and I’m only losing one. I’m losing rational thought but I am not losing intuitive thought. Please understand the difference. Rational thought is all about manipulating facts. It helps us tally facts, check off lists, see cause and effect, evaluate, compare, organize, and come to decisions. You’re right. I’m becoming less able to do those kinds of things. I need your help with those.

But I am not losing my intuitive thought processes. I can read your expression and body language very, very well. I know how you feel and I know how I feel, even if I can’t think of the right word to express it. I can enjoy beauty in all its forms. I can see, hear, touch, feel touch, smell, and taste. Please help me explore all the beauty this world has to offer. I want to experience it with you. Don’t lock me away or isolate me in hopes of keeping me safe. I need beauty and companionship more than ever.

  1.         Show me the goods.

When you bring to me sorrow, I have no defenses. I cannot reason you or myself out of it. I can only experience it with you. When you are irritated with me, I cannot use cause and effect to understand why, only reflect it back to you. When you are overcome with work or worry, I cannot form a plan to help you or lighten your load, like I used to. All I can do is absorb your negativity and amplify it. I am like a sponge to your moods.

So please bring me the good things in life—your love, your laughter, your companionship. I will reflect it back to you twofold. That I can do.

  1.         Join me in the intuitive world.

It’s wonderful over here! You wouldn’t believe how much joy there can be! I am living in the present moment. I have mastered effortlessly what people spend decades using meditation to achieve. I am here, in the now, fully, with no distractions from thoughts about the past or future. Come join me. You will find beauty in every direction, too, if you’ll just slow down and look, really look, and be, beside me. I feel everything so deeply, so clearly—without rational thought to distract, label, compare, and judge.

Come join me—even if only for a moment. I would be so happy to enjoy it with you.

§

early buds

5 comments

  1. Do you think that people with dementia would enjoy longer visits with silence in between conversations, or short visits?
    This blog post was super helpful, and I’ll definitely be using some of these tips and keeping them in mind as I interact with family members and patients with dementia, as lately I’ve been having a lot of trouble with understanding them and what they want. Thank you for clearing up so many things for me!

    Like

    1. Hello Mimi,

      The length of the visit or conversation isn’t nearly as important as whether your conversation is designed to enable someone who has only their intuitive thought processes to join in. If you talk only about what they can see, hear, feel, taste or smell they can take part. Point out beauty, be a spectator of life unfolding around you, be a partner in experiencing what is happening right there, in the present. We use our intuitive thought processes to enjoy sensory information and beauty.

      We also use them to interpret our companion’s feelings. So use your body language, expressions and intonation to communicate that you are happy to be there and enjoy the present with them.

      Best,
      Judy

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much!
        Do you think that they would get bored of conversing with you or being with you for 3 hours straight though?

        Like

      2. hi Mimi,

        The key to being a good companion for someone who has dementia is in becoming aware of what their needs and preferences are. Whether you are with a person who is a child or an adult, a healthy person or someone with dementia, it’s not too difficult to discern whether they are enjoying the conversation, would like to do something more active, or would prefer some time alone.

        As caregivers and people who love someone who has dementia, it’s important to think about their needs for sensory and social stimulation. We all differ in how much and what is best for us. Whether someone would want to have another person present for three hours would depend first upon whether they were more introverted or extroverted, but everyone needs sensory stimulation, too, not just companionship.

        The DAWN Method uses the habilitative approach, an experiential model, and is person-centered in its philosophy. My book isn’t out yet, but you might take a look at ‘Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s’ by Joanne Koenig Coste to learn more about providing person-centered care.

        Best,
        Judy

        You know, I don’t think we should post it, but tell me what you think of my response, too.

        🙂

        Judy Cornish
        the DAWN Method

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I think that your responses are really helpful, so thank you for all of your advice haha. 🙂
        In real life, I’m actually really bad with social cues, which is why I ask all these questions I guess haha…sorry if they’re a hassle to answer sometimes. If you have any suggestions on where I should post my questions, I’d be happy to do it on there instead of on here~

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s