I haven’t quite figured out how to talk about individuals that I have seen everyday for the last 6 weeks. The most surprising thing that I have learned to see is that each person in dementia care has their own personality and their own personal quirks. That may be a bit difficult to see when you are going through the frustration of everyday life with your dementia loved one who may still be living with you in your home and who you are quite probably the care giver for.
When I first started visiting I didn’t see these folks as individuals, I lumped them all together as being the same. Being the same meant that their own personalities had been lost to dementia. I was completely wrong and I have only been able to see this from watching them everyday and watching how each one interacts with the other residents and with me.
Even with my mom I couldn’t relate to her in her own individuality because I have only thought of her as having dementia and from my view at that time, a person with dementia no longer had the ability to know what was going on around her or who she was or what was happening to her. She was no longer a person. That way of thinking has been pushed on me by family members who had decided that efforts to communicate with mom were useless. After paying better attention to those who were neglecting her and talking down to her and talking down about her I realized how wrong that entire scenario was. I was being brain washed to agree that “This is how dementia is.”
So anyway, mom has taught me a lot! I see the love and adoration in her eyes. I see the kindness that has always been there. I see the problem solver, the care giver, the doer, the pleaser and still in her dementia mind, I see the future planner. It seems that if you do not see these things in your loved one then you need to look closer, look deeper and that person will shine through but you have to open your own eyes first. That person will be different than the person she was before dementia began to take away proper function of her brain, but that person is still very much present.
I respect mom for who she is and I see a beautiful woman and all that beautiful woman wants is to be loved.
I had to write this post as I continue my journey of understanding. I am trying to let go of my preconceived ideas of dementia and move on to my next phase which will be to write about individual personalities of dementia folks and hopefully be able to convey an inner view of who they are. These folks, like us, go through all the same emotions that we do. With them it can be more intense and the ups and downs may happen more frequently but they still experience and feel love, joy, sadness, frustration, excitement, loneliness, and every emotion you feel. They should not be put away and forgotten.