Monday, October 12, 2009

Who's Reality Is It?

Jacqueline Marcell on her blog posted "Top 10 Dementia Eldercare Recommendations"

#6 When dementia surfaces, live in your elder’s reality of what is true for them at the moment. Don’t argue, question, or try to force logic or reason. Agree and use calm non-threatening body language, while you distract and redirect their attention to things they are interested in. Get them reminiscing about the old days, capitalizing on their long-term memory.

I think this is such an important recommendation. It was hard in the beginning to realize that my reality and my Mother's reality were quite different after she got Alzheimer's. I eventually figured out it did absolutely no good to argue or try to change her reality.

I read several of Jacqueline's blog entries and she is an eloquent writer who comes across with great compassion and personal experience.

Until recently I hadn't made the connection of behavior problems and mirrors that some people struggle with. When people with dementia look in the mirror they see an old person, in their mind they are 20-30 and expect to see that reflection.

It would be like walking into a sci-fi movie; being your age and seeing someone else looking back at you in the mirror. How very terrifying it must be to them.

We used to play peek-a-boo in the mirror. My mother loved that game and was happy playing it. I would guess by then she had reverted back in her mind to a very young person, and so the mirror was someone to play with not fear. But I can remember her asking - "Who is that?"

But I can remember when I was little how she used to play peek-a-boo with me. I can remember mom telling me I used to ask about the other little girl. She said I would try to look behind the mirror to find her. Looking back I think my mother wondered about the person looking back at her.

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