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Tricks and Treats of Dementia

Tricks and Treats of Dementia

There are moments during the dementia disease process, where it may seem as if your loved one is getting better.  Perhaps on a sunny day you take your Mom outside and have the most beautiful conversation with her, talking about the past and present at length.  You go away from this encounter feeling as if Mom is getting better, only on your next visit she barely smiles at you.

During those good times it is hard not to get your hopes up, but even worse when your heart is crushed on the bad days.  Therefore, it is important to know that good and bad days are very common throughout the progression of any of the 70 different types of dementia.  One way to look at these goods days is to recognize them as a treat given by the dementia disease process.  This sweet reward of connection enables us to cope with the disease process for longer and to remember that our loved one is still there trying to communicate with us.

As the disease progresses these sweet days become less and eventually can shorten to mere moments of joy.  So while it is OK that they keep our hope alive, we must not allow them to mentally trick us into believing that if we try or push harder, do more, or say the right thing we can be treated to a repeat performance.  In reality, the disease always has the upper hand.  No one truly knows why these good days or good moments occur, but at Azura Memory Care we recognize their importance and work to cherish and enhance every episode.

We know that there is a correlation between a special visit or activity, which can cause the person with memory loss to put on a show.  By show we don’t mean that they become a vaudeville performer.  In fact, it is well-documented and studied condition in which a temporary increase in cognition and ability levels gives them the persona of someone free from dementia.  This usually occurs when a person with dementia is mentally and socially stimulated using their personal history in the correct manner. Often this stimulation goes hand-in-hand with their long-held social graces, which when around outside personal stimuli naturally kick-in.  For instance they will ask visitors if they would like a cup of coffee, even though they can no longer remember how to make it, but this request is something they have always done.  As a result their brain, regardless of the disease’s progression, still provides these learned social graces and helps them to show others a good time.

Sadly this reawakening usually occurs for a short period of time and lessens in frequency and length as the disease progresses.  Therefore, someone in the earlier stages may be able to carry on a 10 minutes conversation, while someone in the later stages may simply say, “Hello!”  Regardless of when or how long these moments of connection occur we must recognize them as treats put forth by the disease and savor every moment.

 

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