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Tony Grist

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Dementia [Oct. 14th, 2014|09:23 am]
Tony Grist
My mother and I were watching a documentary about dementia last night. I didn't think she'd register what was going on- and I was right, she didn't. A lot of the people featured knew there was something wrong with them, but my mother doesn't. We've never had her condition diagnosed and I can't see the point; we don't need a doctor to confirm what we already know. Besides, she's perfectly happy- happier, so far as I can tell, than she was a year ago.

I was talking to our next door neighbour yesterday afternoon. Her mother- who lives in Maine- has dementia too. They recently had a phone conversation that went something like this.

Mother: I  broke my leg.

Neighbour. I know. I spent the summer looking after you. Don't you remember?

Mother: No.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2014-10-14 09:11 am (UTC)
I'm glad that at least your mother is happy.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-10-14 10:10 am (UTC)
Yes, she lives in the moment and has nothing to worry about.
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[User Picture]From: ashkestral
2014-10-14 01:56 pm (UTC)
Sorry for dropping in. I saw your post on the LJ front page, and I just read this article yesterday.

How to communicate with patients who have dementia
http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2014/10/communicate-patients-dementia.html

It argues that confronting people with dementia about their memory loss doesn't improve their condition and instead just makes them upset, and there are other methods to use.

It's written toward doctors but I think it's really useful article.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-10-15 05:17 pm (UTC)
Some people (in the early stages) seem to know they're fading, but my mother has moved beyond all that.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2014-10-14 03:10 pm (UTC)
Roy's dad lost his memories starting with short-term and going back and back and back. The last time we visited him together, Roy asked him if he knew who he (Roy) was. Puzzled look, concern that he'd get it wrong, and then: "Are you my father?"

He didn't remember being married and having children, either. But for a moment he remembered having gone to Dartmouth.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-10-14 04:41 pm (UTC)
My mother has a remarkable memory for words- and can still
do crosswords. I'm not sure about her long term memory because she was never one to reminisce. The other day I had to tell her which year it was; she seemed surprised we'd got as far as the 21st century.
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2014-10-14 03:21 pm (UTC)
Who needs a doctor to diagnose advanced old age?

I'm pleased to hear she's happy; my great-grandmother (who lived to be 104 - poor soul!) began loosing her memory and her wits around 99 but retained enough wits to be constantly aware that she was dimming and fading. And it pained her when she couldn't recognise her great-grandchildren - and later on her grandchildren and her children. Some times ignorance is truly a blessing, and it always reminds me of Voltaire's story of the Good Brahmin. Some times, perhpas, the Brahmin is wrong; sometimes it might indeed be preferable to live in ignorant bliss, rather than in knowing unhappiness.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-10-14 04:47 pm (UTC)
My mother forgets names- including of close family members- but it doesn't seem to embarrass her. She's very good at pretending to understand whats going on when she doesn't. People who have short conversations with her can come away with a favourable but inaccurate estimate of her mental powers.
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[User Picture]From: faunhaert
2014-10-14 05:12 pm (UTC)
when you talk with some one
instead of to someone
knowing the face/voice is more important than the name.

it would be interesting to find exactly where in her brain the disconnect is.

but its way better not to turn her into a guinea pig
where they would force her to know there is an deficit.

she must drive you nuts at times

you are very kind
I'd love to have you as my child/sheild

hugssss
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-10-14 05:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks.

She can be annoying. Also we can't leave her these days. Not unless we arrange for someone to sit in.
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[User Picture]From: faunhaert
2014-10-14 06:17 pm (UTC)
i wouldn't leave her alone either

hope there's a few folks to help set in
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-10-14 08:53 pm (UTC)
We get away once a week.

And we're about to have seven days off. We've hired someone from an agency to live here while we're gone.
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From: (Anonymous)
2014-10-15 04:55 pm (UTC)

help

Excuse me, but did you forget your sister and your brother-in-law? xx
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-10-15 05:07 pm (UTC)

Re: help

Of course I didn't.

You know how much we rely on you.
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From: (Anonymous)
2014-10-15 05:10 pm (UTC)

Re: help

Thank you :) Have a great time away! Hope all goes smoothly. xxx
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-10-15 05:14 pm (UTC)

Re: help

Thanks. We're hoping to get a lot sorted out this trip.
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[User Picture]From: wyrmwwd
2014-10-14 05:14 pm (UTC)
It's so hard, because, dementia occurs in the brain... the same brain that would understand that it had dementia if it DIDN'T have dementia.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-10-14 05:52 pm (UTC)
Exactly.

She forgets that she forgets.
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