Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Japanese family again. (J)

Well, the travel dust is settling and after 2 days of work and jet lag I can catch my breath and blog again.

Tonight we had dinner together, Yujiro, Okaasan, the cat...and I. Nabe (stew cooked on the table) of course. Okaasan is bright and lively. We chatted about English food and Hula dancing, and the drunk Finance Minister scandal etc
Tomorrow is her Hula dance class. Last week she failed to go because she wasn't ready when the classmate came to pick her up. So tomorrow we'll organise her more and make sure she is going. NEXT week her class is joining some mass-Hula event in a local hotel and we'll have to make sure she gets to that too. Tonight she showed me her dress and flowery headpiece. Very cute!

We have a moving house day!
March 25th. We've booked two little vans and their drivers to come and help us move the big things. That will still give us days to clean this place before we must give the key back to the owner. It feels strange to be leaving this neighborhood. I've lived here since before I met Yujiro.

But also this house is beginning to feel very small - now we know where we are moving to. It will be so good to leave the laundry hanging in one place to dry, and to easily check what Okaasan is doing with bath and shopping.In England I bought seeds and bulbs for the garden, a table cloth...

We took Okaasan on Sunday to show her the house from the outside. But there was so much snow piled up between the road and the building you couldn't really even see the front door! We've asked the house agent to see if the owners will do something about the snow - the building was empty all winter and we kind of feel it is their responsibility to clear at least a path to the door!

Anyway. From now on we'll be busy packing. Okaasan's stuff is limited. But we have a lot. Yujiro already started throwing out things. I must start tomorrow.

And I want to start thinking more about things I've learned in this book about dementia and how to talk to sufferers. Basically the book's advice is:

1) Don't question them (even things like "Where did you go today?" - keep conversation general and on their "primary topic" - which is probably something they know about and enjoy. Probably something which has been in their life and memory a long time. I think for Okaasan it may be shopping, food, family stories.
2) Don't contradict them or point out their memory failings. This is hard..and Yujiro has a tendency to tell Okaasan directly that he's already told her some fact 10 times.
3) Use props/key words to keep the "primary topic" cycle of conversation going round.

I've got to read the book again and make notes. I read it on the airplane and it spoke to me in a big way. Okasan isn't so bad yet. But I can see familiar situations: the indecisiveness, the trouble getting things together to go out, the repeated actions of hand washing and folding clothes and the confusion she has about simple questions.
It'll be hard for me to guide conversations so much in Japanese, because the nuance of language is hard. But I'll try.














  1. 彼らに質問をしてはいけません。(たとえ今日どこへ行ったの“のようなことでも・・・・話は一般的で、”プライマリー・トピック“であること・・・・たぶん何か彼らが知っていて楽しいこと。たぶん人生の中でずっと記憶していること。お義母さんだったら、買い物や食べ物や家族の話だと思うわ。
  2. 彼らを否定してはいけません。また、記憶違いを指摘してもいけません。これはむずかしいわ。ユウは、もう10回も話したよ、とお義母さんに面と向って言う傾向があるの。
  3. 小道具を使いましょう。プライマリー・トピック“に関する会話が広がるようにキーワードを。



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