Dementia: Playing Your Cards Right

It must be a real dilemma for paid carers to know what to do with Maureen when housework is done. When  I returned home yesterday Rosie mentioned that she had been playing ‘Fish’ with Maureen.  I enquired about the card game and Rosie suggested that Maureen would explain all to me later. I thought no more about it until Maureen raised concern about the game, shortly after Rosie had gone.

Maureen had no idea what ‘Fish’ was all about, and said she found the whole game confusing.  She mentioned that eventually they had ended up playing Snap, which she clearly found infantile.  Unfortunately, it gets worse than that: Maureen thought the whole card playing was part of an assessment.

She felt that Rosie was trying to establish ‘if she was mad’ and needed to be taken away to a Mental Hospital.  These fears about assessment, and being ‘locked up’ are never far from the surface.  Maureen often fears that a conspiracy is taking place to put her away in some awful kind of residential establishment.  I specualte that this is the result of seeing her father locked in one of the old fashioned EMI Wards.

Helping Maureen find pleasurable activities is a challenge to us all.  It is likley that she has forgotten how she used to fill her time.  Sometimes she stays in bed when she has no clear plans for the day ahead.  Housework often leads to complaints about: ‘it being worse than having a job’.  I am not sure there is a simple solution to trying to direct Maureen into activities that she might enjoy.  It is something that I need to think about with some urgency.

One thing is clear she doesn’t like me going out and leaving her with carers.  Therefore, she will continue to complain about her pursuits when carers are here; because she resents being ‘baby sat while I go out and enjoy myself.’  I will have to live with her discontent if I am to have any respite from being a Care Partner.

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