I have lived in the Bozeman Montana area for the last 20 years and I have actually been in the care business for around 30 years. Amazingly enough, I am a previous PreSchool Teacher. Never, did I imagine that I would be caring for adults.
It all started when the call came from Seattle stating that my mom is in need of emergency removal from her current care situation. My mom who has dementia was also Failing To Thrive. She was incredibly depressed. The thing about dementia is that many people think it is just old age and that when you get old you loose your mind. That is not true.
According to Laura Wayman, Johns Hopkins University Press, A Loving Approach to Dementia Care; Memory loss that disrupts everyday life is not a normal part of aging. However, there is no clear line that separates normal changes from the warning signs……She continues – Dementia is a general term for a group of brain disorders, and Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of those with dementia.
To read her complete description and enlightening insight into ways you can maintain a healthy and happy relationship with your loved one you will want to read Laura Wayman’s book. I did and it has helped me to understand with my heart.
My younger brother and his wife sent me an urgent message requesting me to immediately leave Montana and come to Seattle to assist in removing my 86 year old mom from her current downward spiral. This was an incredible wake up call.
I spent my first week in Seattle getting my mom out of bed and up and moving. We began to have her walk down to the dining room to eat with other residents. Then we would get her out into the world on different outings; to the park, to the water front, out to lunch and to visit with other relatives until her strength begin to build and she began to regain her will to live.
Along with getting her up and moving we needed to work on building her self esteem and self worth. She is a beautiful and special lady and she didn’t feel that way anymore. Every person has a right to feel positive self worth and as a daughter and caregiver I made sure that mom knows she is still a person with normal every day wants and needs and that she can still have a happy, fulfilling and relevant life. Mom has lost her most recent memories but the older memories are still very much there and that is where she lives. We need to live right there with her. She still knows how to have fun. She is still there, she is just a bit different than she was before.
With dementia a kind and understanding relationship where you go to live in her world is what will help her to navigate through the feelings of loss and not being able to understand everything. A one to one relationship that is built on caring and trust is what we plan to participate in with mom for the rest of her life.
She has her own reality and I am learning to live in there with her because I have learned that she can no longer come back to live in mine.