At work the other day I was pulling expired holds off the shelf. One book caught my eye, CONTENTED DEMENTIA.
The title alone intrigued me. Contented dementia? My mother had dementia and early on my mother was contented at times, though she was distressed more often as the dementia progressed. Contented dementia sounded like a great idea. I wanted to know how they thought that could happen.
I read a few pages...and I liked it.
It made so much sense. They talked about how people with dementia cannot store new information, even something they did two minutes ago is not in their memory, because it never entered their memory in the first place. People with dementia do remember things from long ago, however, and this is where they say to direct any conversation.
People with dementia are often frustrated and scared with their current daily situations, because most people try to orient them to the present, which is almost impossible for them. They don't remember why they have the umbrella or if it's appropriate to have tea. Keeping them oriented to their past anchors them to somewhere they can function competently. Are they functioning in the present world as we'd like them to? No, they aren't. They are not able to interact with us right here right now. The authors' premise is that it's caregivers and families expectation that they do so that causes them so much distress and us frustration. This book helps us relieve their distress by allowing them to be, in their minds, where they are most comfortable.
Even though I didn't know about the process presented in this book when my mother was alive, I tried to do this some with my mom (with a lot of help from Therapist!). If mom brought up something from the past, I'd just go there with her in the conversation, even if it didn't make sense to me in the present. This did seem to help her and calm her.
I wish I'd had this book when she was alive. I don't know if we could alleviated all her distress, but I think we could have done more. And I would have felt more competent having this extremely helpful guidebook.
And family? MY family? Anyone who is going to be caring for me when I get old and decrepit? If you are reading this please note, if I ever get dementia, I want be cared for in this way.
Note: I am still selling Susannah Charleson's SCENT OF THE MISSING for the 100 book handsell challenge (and it's doing really well!). I may add CONTENTED DEMENTIA as a second title. The only problem is, there aren't even 100 copies of this book in warehouses in the U.S., perhaps because the authors are from Britain. I hope this book gains more exposure here. I'll see if I can help with that.
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