dementia - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
Dementia was hard on us all, to watch one we love slip away in such a manner. Yet when we used baby words with her she appeared to rally and regain function. When we watched classic old tv shows she loved she rallied further still. That combination of complete kindness and deep memory triggers brought a little of her back to us and it was as heartbreaking as it was heartmaking.
When she would recall damaging memories, we would say, "That sounds like a nightmare, but you are safe now." It calmed her. When she would say a thing that was long ago as if it were now we said, "Wow, you have the best memories, was that a long time ago?" In this way we tried to affirm her reality in the way that was most kind and loving. We kept it light. We made sure that in these dementia years she felt safe and protected.
When Ella would fret that she couldn't sleep we just said, "That's because you aren't tired, love. You will sleep when you are ready to sleep." She would calm, watch her favourite old tv shows and soon nod off on the sofa.
The dementia appeared to have some linkage to old PTSD traumas, unresolved pains and false-shame, false-guilt and things her upper brain could no longer repress.
When trying to unlock our dementia patients we first speak to them only in the accent of their childhood, whatever that is. It triggers their early childhood self, or so we believe, it helps to kick start the healing process. That and baby words. Then as they begin to respond to more complex sentences we stop the local accent and speak in whatever way we normally do. We remind them kindly at times that they are adults, that they've made hundreds of sandwiches in their lifetimes before. Then we help them if they need it. We've seen real improvements this way at the Fraser Institute of Human Brain Regeneration.
Rather than expecting the dementia patient to fetch their own drink we place the carton of juice and a cup next to them. Then when they drink we remind them, "sip, sip, sippy cup." In no time many are drinking as if they are downing pints of shandy and fetching more from the fridge. These appear such small steps, but they are indeed giant leaps for the fragile cognition they are battling.
Essentially, no horse would die of thirst if there was water nearby that they could drink. So if the patient shows an inability to fetch things for themselves we make it easier until they master the skill, then progressively harder in tiny steps until they have independence. It takes love and patience, and of that, our staff has lots. Being infinitely nice is our job.