Dementia: Peripheral Vision and Compassionate Communication

I think our luck may be changing as we try to find our way on this journey with dementia.  A chance conversation yesterday has opened up a new front on Maureen’s 50% loss of peripheral vision.

As I wandered around Cleethorpes yesterday morning I caught site of Pete’s wife as she stood at the till in her hairdressers shop.  Pete was in hospital at the same time as Maureen, as his stroke had taken place at about the same time.  The only difference being that Pete had been taken straight to the Stroke Unit at Scunthorpe to be thrombolised.  Margaret his wife then told me of other major differences that Pete had experienced in his treatment following stroke.

Pete continues to be treated as a stroke patient: whereas Maureen is seen as someone who has dementia.  Maureen was promptly discharged from the Stroke Team quite some time ago, and moved onto to the Memory Service.  They  discharged her with a diagnosis of mixed dementia as there is no traetment for the condition..

Pete has a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment and his treatment is still coordinated through the Stroke Team.   We are left to our own devices.   This could be the subject of further examination but it is visual loss I want to move onto next.

I didn’t ask Margaret for detail but Pete has suffered peripheral vision loss.  He has now been referred to a specialist eye hospital in Sheffield to explore possibilities, with the best expertise in the country.  This possibiliy came about through contact with the Blind Society.  Referral from Pete’s G P has led to an early appointment.

It is likely that I chose the wrong moment to share Pete’s path to Sheffield with Maureen. She was eating her breakfast and bantering with Chloe, the carer.  What it served to remind us of is Maureen’s recollection that a specilaist optician, at the hospital, had promised to make her some special glasses.  She has held onto this dream, and that is what it is, so we need to chase up an appointment.  Once that has come to its natural conclusion, and no glasses, it may be possible to revisit the idea a trip to Sheffield.

No matter which road we take next on our journey, Maureen believes it is possible to get her driving licence back.  Despite being told by several experts that she will never be able to drive again she still hold onto her dream.  Little point in challenging her dreams.  I always share her disappointment that the Care Agency don’t send Maggie any longer.   Maureen believes she was going to help  her to get that licence back.   I have never challenged this idea:  compassionate communication, or telling porkies, is often the only way to get anything approaching a peaceful life with dementia around.  I must also remember not to try to discuss important issues when someone is eating their breakfast!

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