Friday, 29 May 2015

From one moment to the next.. never know where dementia is going to take you.

One of the messages to come out of last weekend's films (apart from the fact that I am NOT a good publicist) is that everyone experiences dementia differently. While there are common threads: the short term memory loss/the raw emotions etc, nobody's brain is the same and how an individual deals with the illness can be very personal.

Even within the same person - from day to day, or even hour to hour - the dementia is working differently. It makes living with dementia an interesting ride - trying to judge whether we are needed to help/remind/protect/guide - or not needed at all.

Generally Okaasan isn't so great at doing clothes laundry now.
She washes some of her clothes once or twice a month. Usually at the same time as having a bath. Usually leaves the wet clothes on the bathroom floor or in the sink...for "later" - a later which never comes. She can walk past wet clothes and not see them. Once they are dumped on a surface they are left.

This week I saw how Okaasan can react very differently to an almost identical situation...just days apart.

On the first day I'd done some of her laundry and put the clean, wet clothes in a wash bowl. I went into her room and gave it to her: "now is sunny! Maybe a good time to hang the clothes outside!"
She readily agreed. Put the bowl on the floor and started getting dressed to go out to the clothes line. Dressing and watching TV.
A few minutes later she was dressed. Stood there. Wondered why she was dressed? And sat down again to watch TV. The bowl of wet clothes forgotten in an instant. Now left. And would have stayed there for...hours...days....(but I rescued them).

A day or two later I am in the final flap of getting ready for work. Shower, teeth brushing, get dressed, get lunch pack, work books, car keys etc etc. The usual cramming everything into the final 10 minutes.
Okaasan comes into the kitchen: "the blanket fell down off the clothes line! You should pick it up quickly before it gets dirty!!"
"Yes, yes - in a minute I will. I am wearing a bath towel right now - I'll do it in a few minutes...thankyou, thankyou!".
She came and told me again a minute later.....and I promised to get to it sooooon.

Then I'm upstairs, dressing, hair drying, this that this that....5 minutes later I am out in the garden to attend to the fallen blanket.

It's back on the clothes line. Okaasan has got herself outside, down the steps and picked up the blanket, pegged it back on the line. And is back inside watching TV. She saw the situation, reacted to it, acted on it and finished it. No problem at all.

Why such different responses?
Did situation 2 have an element of "danger and risk" of dirty laundry on the ground - so Okaasan could keep that thought in mind and respond to it? Was situation 1 just a bowl of clean laundry which she didn't have any knowledge of until I handed it to her? So she quickly forgot about it?

Or was it nothing at all to  do with the laundry situation? Just different day, different dementia function? Strange.


  1. just read about the earthquake, are you all OK?


    1. No problem up here! Many miles away from it all - friends in Tokyo said it was a big rock. One friend stuck in an elevatore and had to walk the stairs. But all ok here in the north country.