Saturday, February 13, 2016

What Dementia Patients Go Through

What Dementia Patient Go Through

Many times you will see articles or even exercises in what it is like to have Alzheimers. People in the dementia field have been trying to explain this phenomenon for ever.

And those who do not have dementia always want to know, "What is my loved gong through? What are they experiencing? What can I do to help?"

I have always found that less is more. Or keep it simple. If you go into the depths of Alzheimers or any dementia for that matter and try to explain it, you will most likely in the end say or do something that simply doesn't happen or is dramatized in some way.

I often refer to the "Virtual Dementia Tour" which has been around for a few years now. Some woman, with good intent I'm sure came up with this scenario. In which people put on smudged glasses, headphones that are blaring music, oven mitts, and marbles in their shoes, to represent what it is like to have dementia.

Every dementia patient I have talked to about this, every one, including me has said this "tour" is nothing like having dementia. It's just not.

So in the interest of keeping it simple a couple of years ago I came up with a scenario of my own, that anyone can easily do from the comforts of their own home and see themselves some of what dementia patients go through.

Here is that little test:

Pick up a book. Any book. Can be a magazine, or some book you are currently reading. What book it is doesn't matter. Turn to page 19. Can be any page, but I picked 19 just because. Now, read every third word, in every other paragraph.

Now after reading every other word in every other paragraph, wait two minutes and explain to someone what you just read.

Why would anyone do this? If you do this simple exercise, it will show you how a dementia patient deals with reading, and comprehending anything.

In a group of people, two or more, I hear about every third word. When reading a book, after the third paragraph I have no idea what the first paragraph was about. In my daily living, I live in a world of unknown.

So, pick up a book. And read every third word for a page or two. Then try to tell someone what you just read. That is what we deal with.

As simple as this little exercise is, in my opinion it indeed shows you what a dementia patient deals with trying to understand what is going on around them at any given time.

This doesn't just happen on bad days. This confusion is there 24/7. Always. There are no breaks, there are no times where you are thinking clearly.

You have a disease of the brain, and portions of your brain has already been damaged by this disease. Nothing nor no one is going to be able to "fix" this or make you understand something better.

You just can't. That is what it's like to live with dementia. Even with this explanation, this only deals with a small part of dementia, memory loss.

There is much more that we deal with as patients. Stress, anxiety, fear, agitation, loneliness, the feeling of despair, the feeling on not being useful anymore, and on and on, and on.

It is indeed a disease of memory loss. But it is also much more than that.

©  Rick Phelps  2016