A lot has been written about dementia. There is no shortage of advice, but in case you have stumbled on my blog early on in a search for information, I’ll include a link which is a good starting point if you are on a quest for knowledge.
Early signs of dementia are subtle; looking back though, the first telltale indication was the confusing conversations. We’d be talking to mum about a subject and then dad would veer off on a completely unrelated topic. The problem was that as his short term memory degraded, so did his ability to concentrate, therefore his mind wandered. We used to laugh about this at the time, not realising the cause.
And then there was the time he flagged down a motorway patrol vehicle on the M25 to enquire where the M3 slip-road was; he had a logical explanation as to why he did it and he was surprised that the officer he spoke to threatened to ‘nick’ him. And then he was even more surprised when I had a go at him. At the time I was upset that the role-model whose standard of driving I had admired and aspired to could act in such an idiotic way. In retrospect, it should have been obvious that his judgement was failing.
Dealing with lost property will become a challenge for anyone associated with dementia. As the condition worsens the sufferer may spend inordinate periods of time searching and when asked “what are you looking for”, they will probably have forgotten and respond with something like “I’ll know when I find it”. Putting things in a safe (but illogical) place may become an issue. Geoff regularly lost his keys and his wallet. One day he telephoned my wife Glenys; he was in a panic because he’d locked himself in. Glen dashed over to his home with a spare set of keys and released him. She searched for hours to no avail; we found the keys several days later wrapped in his cap and pushed to the back of a cupboard, which leads me neatly into the ‘I-never-did-it’ syndrome.
One of the frustrations for a loving carer is that their loved one is unlikely to take any responsibility for their actions. And when you think about it, why should they? After all, who can be blamed for something they have no knowledge or recollection of? The even more annoying consequence of this is though, that having spent hours looking for something, when you eventually find it, you’ll be blamed for hiding it in the first place. So it’s hardly surprising that the people who love and care for a person with dementia will experience a riot of emotions – bewilderment, sadness, frustration, anger. Hopefully though, they will also experience their ‘eureka moment’, which I’ll cover in the next blog.