A carer’s tale
Please read my stories with an open mind and heart. I write these stories as entertainment and to record my stories as a carer not to blame or offend anyone.
Different dementia patients handle reality differently. The majority is aware that they have a memory problem. It can be challenging both for client and carer.
A week ago Mr.J. and I visited a program called Cognitive Therapy which is designed for dementia patients in order to support them in maintain their cognitive freshness. The program last for 9 weeks. Each week there is a different topic to discuss and word and memory games to play. It is rather enjoyable for both patent and carer.
As soon as we arrived, Mr. J. launched himself into boasting about how well his memory serves him, how well he remember his past, where he is from, etc. It was a bit interesting but everyone was very polite and kind so they listened attentively. During the two-hour program people and their carers played word games and talked about current affairs. Mr.J struggled but tried his best to participate. He chatted with different members of the group and seemed to enjoy himself.
At the end of the program, however, he went up to the program leader and talked to her. Later the program leader shared with me what the discussion was about. It turned out that Mr. J. claimed to be too busy to be able to attend the program further. He finds the trip to the program venue too long (20 minutes), he has a wife to attend to, a house to maintain, and many club programs to attend. None of it was true! I was shocked how elaborate the plot was considering that Mr. J. suffers from on-set dementia.
A couple of days later, I mentioned to him that we are to attend the next program in a couple of day and he has some homework to do. The first question was the name of the place he was born. He did not remember it. Suddenly, ha launched himself into a lengthy explanation of why he cannot attend the program. He told me a rather similar story to the one he gave to the program leader, except, I lived with him so I was completely aware of the reality of his life.
It suddenly downed on me, he actually believes this false reality he created in his mind. In his delusion, he is the perfect man who takes good care of his wife – who, by the way, is in a home because the doctor’s office is too far away -, he takes care of the house and the garden, he is a member of different clubs, has an extensive family visiting him regularly and many friends to go out with. He does not need more friends, particularly, not one of those disabled one attending the program.
It is rather sad to see how our engraved beliefs prevent us from having some fun and enjoy what life offers us. This poor man lives day after day within the walls of a house with the only option to go out into the garden when the weather permits it only because he cannot stand the thought to appear less than perfect.