Dementia: Sleeping It Off

Maureen slept for five hours yesterday afternoon.  She was completely exhausted after a herculean effort supporting her Aunty Clarice.

Following chatting with Clarice on Wednesday morning I changed my mind, and decided to tell Maureen that her Uncle Dennis had passed away.  Her immediate response was to want to share her Aunty’s grief.  Maureen and Clarice are close in age, and could be taken for sisters.  They have always been very close, and when they get going are like a couple of teenagers.  Dennis often used to say to me: ‘listen to them they’re off again…’

Maureen was a revelation trying to support Clarice with all she’d got.  Clarice knew that dementia was taking its toll on Maureen ability to help: particularly when it came to choosing an outfit for the funeral.  Even the shop assistant grasped that Maureen had dementia; tactfully returning a pair of skin tight velvet trousers to the rail: hardly the funeral attite for an 84 year old.

On our return journey from nearby Louth we called in for a Carvery.  The food was dreadful, and we would have complained if we had not been in company.  If Dennis had been with us he would have gone through the roof as he had been a chef of high renown.

Shortly after we arrived home Maureen took to the sofa, and when she  awoke just before 9 pm I served a late tea.  We sat listening to records following our snack, and Maureen sang away to her hearts content.  She even took to the ‘dance floor’ a couple of times, and complemented me on my ability to lead.  Two hours later it took me a while to persuade her that it was time to turn in, and she moved upstairs with some reluctance.  Once in the bedroom her mode changed: she became distant and frightened.  I took to the spare room to ease her concern.

I awoke a couple of hours later to the sound of her muttering in the next room.  After a visit to the bathroom I slipped into her bed;  announcing my arrival with my trademarked affected cough.  We chatted for a while as she sought information about the records I had played earlier on.  When I told her I had bought a particular favourite in Louth the previous afternoon she commented that she didn’t know I’d been with her and Clarice. My presence had been blocked out as she concentrated on supporting her Aunty.  All of this is: ‘very interesting’, as my dear old dad would say.

I need to keep my tentative conclusions, from yesterday, firmly in mind at all times.  Timing is critical with dementia: I waited until the right moment to tell Maureen that her uncle has passed.  It would have been a crime to deny Maureen the opportunity of supporting her Aunty.  The day also showed the dynamic nature of dementia: you never know what you are going to get after Maureen has slept. Whenever she comes round after rest I need to try to fathom her reality or I could easily be in trouble.  The one thing I can always be sure of though is ‘music is magic with dementia’: providing you hit the right note (tune).  I will post more on theme tomorrow when I review my Good Music page.


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