Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Comparing dementias...

Can't help it really....I often find myself talking to people about dementia they know, or watching videos on YouTube of dementia sufferes, or reading books...comparing, comparing.

I KNOW no two dementias are the same, because no two people are the same - and dementia is a layer of inability on top of the existing self. There are the similarities - probably most outwardly noticable is the memory loss, the habits such as daytime sleeping and late afternoon/evening alertnmess, the constant little checking movements and questions and note making.

This week I've looked at videos by film maker Yuka Sekiguchi, I went to see her documentary Mainichi ga Alzheimer's (Everyday is Alzheimer's) and now I follow her via Facebook and on YouTube.
The latest video I saw (you can see it HERE) was about her mother's reaction to Yuka's absence; actually a week or more in Australia....mother didn't realise she had gone! Was kind of shocked that she'd just come back with suitcases etc and said "I felt you were here, usual feeling you were here, you were away?"

It strongly reminds me of Okaasan's reaction in the past winter to Dear Son's 2 weeks absence skiing. The first winter, and maybe the second - she actively missed him and asked where he was every day. Last winter she didn't. If I didn't say anything about him, and she and I ate dinner together - she hardly ever asked about him.
His clothes were on the kitchen chair, his shoes were in the hallway - our home routine continued. She seemed content that he was "there" somewhere. She didn't of course remember that she hadn't actually seen him or talked to him for 2 weeks.
And this video of Yuka's mom is just that. Mom was in her own home, other family members were providing the routine of care. Mom didn't miss Yuka at all.

Of course...Dear Son and I are starting to plan a VERY exciting trip in July 2014 to Brazil to see the soccer World Cup....and what to do with Okaasan is in our minds. Probably we will leave her here at home with day service coming in every day to cook and chat. She is unable to shop and cook for herself for a week. I wonder a year from now how aware of our absence she will be?

Other videos I watched this week are:

This slightly scary one of a lady shouting at the food-eating celebrities on TV because she seems to think they are in the room with her and have stolen her food. :-(

An rather soft-focus, surging music sentimental HBO documentary called Caregivers, which looks at sufferers and the people watching out for them. Sufferers' eyes were the stand out in this film for me: how their expression grew worried and tired looking as the dementia progressed, or the blank look to anything happening around them.
Okaasan gets that worried/hunted/tired look sometime....and it is usually a sign that all is not well in her world.

12 Minutes with Alzheimer's - a US Tv experiment with the reporter and a carer donning googles, hand tapes and earphones with confusing noise as they try to accomplish tasks around a home. Oh gawd.......the clothes folding! the searching thru clothes...Okaasan to a T!

Enjoy. Maybe not actually enjoy...but food for thought.

Here in OUR world: I had dinner with Okaasan last night as he was working. I fished around in Okaasan's brain to see if her story about "a JTB tour guide in New York told me Korean food is the best in the world" was still around.
Zilch. Came up with a big fat blank. Gone. :-(
I steered the conversation into Korean food - New York - delicious - you in New York ...and NONE of those prompts brought forth that old, once-familiar story. Nothing. She just said that she'd been to New York on her way to Mexico, and that Korean food was good. A year or two she was always telling us the tale of the JTB guide and what they'd said about Korean food. Always.
Now that story seems to have gone.

Dentist again today.

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