Dementia: GIGO

The support we have received from professional staff in the last few days to has once again been exceptional.  We are very fortunate to have skilled staff from Navigo and Focus Adult Social Care at the end of the phone 24/7.  If within an hour of a 4 am telephone call Rapid Response Nurses, and Mental Health Nurses, are on your doorstep you really count your blessings that you live in North East Lincolnshire!

It will be a few days before we know if an infection has been behind significant changes in Maureen’s presentation.  The Home Treatment Team have determined that we need a Doctor’s Review of her condition.  This is likely to take place towards the end of the week when antibiotics will be kicking in to address any evidence of infection – if indeed she has one.

In the 12 months since I was told that Maureen had moderate to severe dementia, her presentation has changed fundamentally.  When you are close to someone you don’t always notice small incremental changes that are significant to the occasional observer. That became obvious when two members of the HTT  saw her on Thursday and made it clear she needed to be reviewed by their doctor.

I’m pretty sure that Maureen’s presentation at the moment is not helped by the contribution we all make towards GIGO:

  • A tired husband is no use to her at all.
  • Family members who are too busy to call or visit.
  • Professional staff who are treating the condition and not the person.

We all have a simple choice – change our approach or the garbage of hallucinations and challenging behaviour may well continue.

I made a start at the weekend with some simple changes to my approach to being Maureen’s Care Partner by:

  • Having no carers at the weekend because they were unknown quantities.
  • Keeping all doors unlocked except when we were sleeping.
  • Resting most of the time when Maureen slept.
  • Accepting Maureen’s reality unless it was dangerous.
  • Listening rather than talking.
  • Observing rather than initiating activity
  • Providing all the TLC I could muster.
  • Updating family members and the Home Treatment Team on the situation.

It is early days but changing my input has led to positive changes in Maureen’s presentation.  Phone calls from two family members were also just ‘what the doctor ordered’: less garbage is better for all of us!

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