Friday, July 24, 2009

Leaving reality.

"It continued to surprise me how much I actually enjoyed just spending time with Dad; there was something restful about being with him. He accepted me pretty much as I was, we could talk or not depending on how we felt. The unfortunate side effect of this was that sometimes I felt like I got very little intelligent conversation and wasn’t using my brain, a sensation that a lot of new mothers probably felt. It seemed to come instinctively to me, how to deal with him, how to speak to him; it surprised me. I just took him as he was, and I had decided before I even moved in with Dad that I would never correct him or try to orient him in my reality.
For years, the common practice was to try to keep dementia patients “reality oriented”; care-givers would correct patients and try to keep them in the present day. If a patient stated that they had just finished lunch with their wife (who had been dead for years, for example) the care-giver would insist that their wife was dead and that it was the year so-and-so, firmly trying to keep them in the present. Whether it was rooted in people’s fear of mortality, or the fear or discomfort of family members, this practice actually achieved nothing but to make patients anxious and unhappy. It just seemed like common sense to me. My grandmother lived for years with dementia, and I witnessed my aunt, who was her primary care-giver, correct her loudly and firmly whenever she drifted in time. Even at the time I wondered why, it made no sense to me. I did not need Dad to be present to know who and where I was, and it didn’t bother me when his mind wandered in time. If I was lucky, some story or piece of information about him or my family would come out that I had never heard before. And sometimes it was just a delusion or something his mind had twisted. Whatever pathway his mind chose to wander, shepherded along by Alzheimer’s, I would accompany him."

No comments:

Post a Comment