Q: DEAR REGINA, Do you have advice for me to deal with my mum? I am sorry to say but I can’t take on more of her tapping the tables over and over. The sound is making my head hurt! I take away the objects that cause the sound, now she uses her hands for the sound. HELP!
A: I can certainly hear your frustration. Your mum’s behavior is a rhythmic response or sensory need. Think about what she liked to do or was very proud of doing that requires a big movement. An example could be: was she a housewife that kept the home clean? When you take something from her you should substitute something for her to do. Show her the big circular movements to wipe something down in a rhythmic fashion and then give the dusting cloth to her and do it with her until she is doing on her own. Go with the rhythm she is using. The tapping is a sensation that makes her feel good and comfortable. Replace it with something that is in her rhythm that you both can enjoy. As caregivers we have to know where our own tolerance is and step back so we can think properly to see the bigger picture. All annoying behaviours have a need. We have to be a detective to find what that need is. A clue can be in the rhythm of their movement.
A few questions regarding symptoms of dementia and the impact on the memory function. Questions about what kinds of things people have trouble remembering. It is important to know that it is not only memory that is affected. This is repeated information for those who sent in the questions and missed the last time I spoke of this. People struggle with their thinking ability which affects our executive functions.
Executive functions are housed in the frontal lobe of our brain, which is located right behind our forehead. Executive functions are also housed in the temporal lobe of our brain, which is located on both sides of our head above our ears.
Together they make up a pretty big part of our brain. They house the following functions:
• Activity in response to our environment – for example, knowing not to touch a hot burner on the stove or to not walk off a cliff.
• Judgment in our daily activities and decisions – for example, when driving a car, knowing not to turn left in front of an oncoming vehicle, or to not give money to strangers that call you up on the phone.
• Controls our emotional, social and sexual responses- for example calling a friend of ours “fat” to their face, or being sexually suggestive to someone else in front of our spouse.
• Assigns meanings to the words we use, involves word associations- for example using the word “toothbrush” rather than “the thing you put in your mouth” or using the word “cup” rather than “cake” when referring to something you drink out of.
• Flexibility of thought, planning and organizing- for example being able to change one’s mind when it is clear that the thought process won’t work to solve the problem or being able to put on underwear before you put on your shirt or pants.
• Understanding abstract concepts- for example, understanding what freedom, good and evil, love, feminism, success, morality, and chauvinism mean.
• Reasoning and problem solving- for example figuring out how to open a locked door or how to screw in a light bulb.
• Attention- for example, finishing the current task you are involved in or keeping eye contact with the person whom you are having a conversation with.
• Sequencing- for example, telling a story with an order of events that makes sense or making a cup of coffee.
• Categorization of objects, for example knowing that both glasses and cups hold liquid or knowing that a ruler and a watch measure something.
• Understanding or processing verbal language, for example, getting the meaning of your words when you speak, or being able to answer a question right after you ask it, not a minute or two later.
Dementia complicates and steals our ability to think and reason. It eventually inhibits our physical ability to swallow, walk and hold ourselves up, and last our heart and ability to breathe. This is a progressive fatal disease.
Senior joke ~ by Maxine -`Age doesn’t make you forgetful, having too many stupid things to remember makes you forgetful.
I look forward to hearing your questions or suggestions to help share Alzheimer’s Awareness. Send questions to [email protected] or call/text to 486-4509