Q: Dear Regina, I take good care of my mom. As of six months she doesn’t recognize me or anyone else. I do not see the point in having my brother come to see her. She does not do much anymore. She can walk but she gets into too many things so we keep her sitting in the family room and sometimes she like her room better. She sleeps more during the day and is now starting to wake at night. I was thinking to have a care giver for her during the day so I can do more things around the house but she is sleeping more. I am not sure what I should do.
A: It sounds like your mom has turned her sleep pattern around. As for your brother to visit her, I think this is a great Idea. Just because she does not recognize anyone doesn’t mean she should not or does not want to socialize. She will enjoy others just as you and I. According to the Alzheimer’s reading room about 64% of people living with dementia suffer from isolation because of lack of socialization. This comes from about 42% of people thinking that they do not benefit from socializing once they do not recognize anyone. This is so sad. People living with dementia desire to be connected with other people. It is our human nature.
The disease is growing and affecting more families on a bigger scale. It is a world epidemic and will get worse. The pharmaceutical world we live in spends billions of dollars on decreasing symptoms not a cure. Until there is a cure we are in a crisis. We are becoming less connected with people in general and then to think of spending time with someone living with dementia? How did we become a world where we turn our heads to the pain others are suffering? Some of us actually blame God for all this pain we suffer and see. God is actually looking at us and saying “how can YOU allow this to happen? I gave you everything you need to fix this.” Everyone has a responsibility to protect others as this is part of our human rights. A lot of us live with a turned head using the “I didn’t know” or the blame game. On the other side of this I witness a lot of love for humanity. It would be lovely to see this grow and connect across the world to help each other. If great minds would get together and use our resources we could solve world hunger. Unfortunately some of these great minds with great resources do not respect humanity and therefore it is a breakdown in humanity. At the same time this does not leave us blameless. You and I can still do our part.
When I think about dementia and how it affects people in all the different aspects, I am deeply saddened by the loss of connection and identity that has happened. I see those living with it starving to connect with another person. I see those that care for them losing the connection to communicate and a variety of other emotions and symptoms of their own trying to handle what is happening in front of them. When I learned there was a way to connect to a person living with dementia and how much I had to change my ways to accomplish this connection, I realized that changing my ways is the very same approach that Helen Keller received from her teacher. It is a different way of communicating and understanding how the other person perceives the world around them. Helen Keller could not change her blind and deaf condition no more than a person with dementia chooses to be logical. There had to be a different communication skill to learn. There are other conditions such as Down’s syndrome and autism that teach us to really think about our own behaviour in order to connect. To learn more about connecting with those living with dementia contact your local Alzheimer’s Association. They can guide you to more resources and support.
Send your questions or stories to firstname.lastname@example.org or text 758-486-4509