Dementia: A Sobering Experience

Anyone who saw Maureen in action yesterday would have found it a sobering experience:

  • She struggled to find her way home after two walks and required frequent redirection.
  • She had no recollection that we followed her steps of last Sunday by venturing onto Thorpe Park Holiday Camp.
  • She seemed blindly confident on crossing roads.
  • She was unable to work out how to answer the telephone or return the handset after I had made a call on her behalf .
  • Her attempts to wash up pots and pans involved abandoning proceedings with  two bowls of hot water on the go.
  • She struggled for ages attempting to zip up a cardigan on her lap: wearing sun glasses at the time may not have helped!
  • She declined my invitation to spend time reading a newspaper.
  • She now defers to me if she needs a hot drink: saying she is too busy with other activities.
  • I notice that Maureen had been tidying up the bookcases again and had replaced a framed photograph of her granddaughter with a booklet dealing with shoulder injuries.
  • She slept on the sofa several times during the day – I’m never sure if this is because she is tired or bored.
  • She awoke around 9.30 pm after a fairly long doze on the sofa.  She looked dazed and became very concerned that she hadn’t got any clothes to go out in.  After a lengthy search in her wardrobes she lay on the bed in tears complaining ‘she used to be so smart when she was at work’.  She continued to complain that ‘clothes had gone missing since we moved here’.  I  encouraged her toput her head on a pillow rather lying across the bed.
  • She awoke at 1.15 am and I managed to encourage her to go back to bed.  I joined her in bed a couple of hours later after she had ‘got lost’ when she went downstairs.

Saturday was certainly a sobering experience: Maureen’s focus at 6 am on Sunday morning was an enlightening one.  Once again she shared her perspective on the constant questioning and observations of professionals.  She feels that they are trying to establish that she is mentally ill.  As I have form in that direction; having been Sectioned for my last episode, I drew upon personal experience to allay her concerns.  I’m not sure my efforts will have made any real difference to Maureen’s constant thought that ‘they are trying to prove that I’m mad’.  I also suggested a strategy to help Maureen relearn what day, month and year  it is: if we crack this it will be one less reason for Maureen feeling ‘stupid’ because of her short term memory deficit.

 There will be a different dynamic this afternoon when family members arrive for lunch.  It will be interesting to see how the presence of Tom and Maeve impact upon Maureen’s presentation today.

NB: I’m hoping this blog/diary will supplement the assessment process and help build up a comprehensive picture of Maureen’s presentation.  It might help to reduce the need for questioning and observations by professional staff that have such a worrying impact on Maureen.

Having dementia is bad enough but when an asessment process is leading you to feel stupid or that they are trying to prove that you are mad: something needs to change!

2 thoughts on “Dementia: A Sobering Experience

  1. I definitely agree!! My mom does not want to be constantly assessed by doctors. When we go to her neurology appointments (every six months), I remind her that we are seeing Stephanie, the nurse practitioner, and that we want to see pictures of how much her kids have grown. We try to make a personal relationship with the professional, so it’s more like a visit with a friend. But most important, we keep these visits to a minimum, so Mom won’t feel like a medical subject. She is a PERSON.


  2. Thanks for your support Carolyn: Maureen has suffered stroke that has led to vascular changes that have damged her short-term memory. She is not mentally ill she is attempting to deal with an injury to her brain. Unfortunately there is little evidence that the possibilities of neuroplasticity have made it this far North: ‘Prescribed Disengagement’ (Swaffer) seems to have kept it at bay.


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