Monday, November 23, 2015

Defying Logic

So you all know we've moved in with Plumbing Boy's 91 year old Mum.  While her health is relatively good for her age, when you reach (an older age) things don't work as well as they used to.  We are fairly accustomed to her physical incapacities; it's her psychological changes we are finding challenging.

I've done a fair amount of research on Alzheimers & spoken to friends who work in mental health care about coping strategies; while she is early onset only, it is really really hard not to react to some of the illogical things she says!  

We're constantly having to challenge ourselves before responding - the idea is to let things go (keeps ones mouth shut) otherwise you end up with people feeling hurt/misunderstood/angry/invalid etc etc etc. 

The best example of this is that last week she was frustrated that she cant walk further than she can.  I explained that she may have to try walking the same distance every day for 2 weeks before trying to increase the distance.  That it was about building up fitness & muscle tone.  Exactly like when I go to the gym or am training for a distance event.  She replied with "but I have walked every day this week".  

Unfortunately both of us said at the same time no you haven't, you called us at work every day to tell us why you couldn't go for a walk (too hot, to cold, to windy, not feeling well).  

Damn it.   We both handled that badly.  We need to remember it's not the person, it's the illness.  In our defence, I guess that was the first time we'd been in that position.  The same conversation has been presented to us twice since then & we've responded with "just keep trying & you'll get there eventually - or give it time." 

And I guess that's it in a nut shell.  75% of the time she's her previous logical self; 25% of the time, not so logical.  We are both having to slow down our though processes & be a little more patient!!!  

Despite said slowing down & practising patience I've discovered there will be times when we will be required to go on futile expeditions to allow her to find things out for herself.  Like there isn't a lot of choice (nor even stock) of woollen blankets in stores leading up to summer.  But that's a story for another day.


Carol said...

Oh gosh Cat, I wish you were in our kitchen a couple of hours ago, we were talking about a very similar thing. Mike and I went up to the local nursing home to visit our old neighbour who now lives there, she's 80 today so we wanted to spend some time with her and take her some flowers. She has dementia and one story she told us she told us three times, and three times we acted as if it was the first time we'd heard it and laughed just as much. We had to.

I remember back to my grandma, she would often repeat things, or say to mum "oh I think I've been here before" when she hadn't, but mum always had to correct her and it drove me nuts. And I remember sometimes how hurt grandma was thinking that she was wrong. Mum never had to do that, I don't even think she knew she was, I reminded her a few times it's not a competition mum, just let her be.

It's hard mate, real hard, exhausting in fact at times, but you do it because you love them. She's lucky to have you in her corner.

AlleyCat said...

Thanks Carol. I did just laugh out loud. I guess sometimes you don't even realize you do it (correct people) - I know I do it to my own Mum all the time when she has the wrong end of the stick - just want her to be educated on what she's talking about was always what I figured. But yes, it can be hurtful, especially if you have memory troubles & we are certainly learning that one. Zac & I are developing code words for each other for when we lose sight of that so we don't unintentionally cause upset!!!! It's when we both lose the plot that we're in trouble LOL!!!!

C said...

It really is so hard to know the best way to help people with Alzheimers or dementia. My gran has it and it used to be so hard to not be shocked or upset by the strange and sometimes sad things she would say. She has sadly gotten much sicker now and hasn't known who I am for the past few years. In an awful way though, she seems happier now that she is completely lost, living in a state of half confusion left her terrified and embarrassed.

Anyway, your story reminded me of a podcast I listened to on This American Life a few months back about a couple who use their acting and improv skills to help make their mother/mothe in law more comfortable and supported in her dementia. No matter what she says or does, they just completely go along with it and it makes her so happy. Very sweet.

I know Zac's mum is lucky to have you both looking after her, she is a lucky lady.


AlleyCat said...

Thanks Clarissa. So sorry about your Gran :-( it is heart breaking. My Grandma had it in the end too & it's hard when they are distressed & angry about what is going on in their reality. There is no reasoning from what I saw - only distraction & it is very hard.....

Will have to dust off my year 10 acting skills - waiter waiter, there's a fly in my soup!!!!

Thank you for your support - it really does mean a lot!!!