Being demented doesn’t really mean being crazy. To be demented actually means to experience the progressive cognitive impairment that comes with dementia. And, as you may already know from reading my earlier blogs, having dementia means losing your memory and rational thought processes but not your intuitive thought processes. Dementia won’t make you crazy unless the people around you don’t understand how to take care of the rational thought processes for you so that you can enjoy living in the intuitive world.
Our intuitive thought processes enable us to recognize our own feelings and the feelings of others, savor beauty, and enjoy all the information our senses bring to us. That means we retain the ability to revel in all the best things in life – anything that is beautiful as well as our relationships with other people. In Dementia Beyond Drugs, Dr. Allen Power reports seeing people who score zero on a cognitive abilities test who, when they see a fellow resident in need, respond with compassion.
Providing support for our loved ones and clients’ rational thought processes is our responsibility as their caregivers. The bonus is that, when we do, they can relax and enjoy everything their intuitive thought processes bring them. And it’s a lot of fun spending time with someone in the intuitive world.
How do we do it here at DAWN?
Check out what Dan Cohen is doing through his program musicandmemory.org, and take a look at the YouTube clip called “Alive Inside, Henry.” Music activates our intuitive thought. It is a wonderful way to spend time with people who have dementia. Try to figure out what kind of music they would have enjoyed listening to during earlier times in their lives and listen to it with them.
Stay in the present. If you stop thinking about the past and future, you are left with what you can see, hear, touch, feel, smell, and taste—in the present. The present is filled with sensory stimulation, if you can still your rational mind and pay attention. Look around. Listen. Bring something with you to share: a little box of jelly beans packs a lot of color and taste, and tastes bring back memories. Flowers, fabrics, buttons, snacks, scrapbooks—everything and anything can provide needed sensory stimulation.
Get out and go. Do you really have to sit in the care facility? Could you not take your loved one or client out for a drive, out for a latte, to a quiet parking spot in a park to watch children play or a bench in a crowded square to watch people? It’s emotionally painful for our brains to have too little sensory or social stimulation. If I was locked up in a care facility, I would be wandering, exit-seeking, and getting agitated, too.
Here at DAWN, we take care of our clients’ rational thought processes and they begin to feel safe and become remarkably happy and relaxed using just their intuitive thought processes. It’s an amazing transformation. Most of our clients still live at home alone and take part in activities in the community with us. We make sure they get so much physical exercise, social contact, and sensory stimulation that by the end of the day they are tired and ready to go to sleep. They don’t have to be locked up in care facilities. They’re not the least bit crazy, just happily demented and living in the intuitive world.