Dementia: One A Day and ‘Use It or Lose It’

Yesterday I posted that I would try to create more routine into our lives.  To carry on with that theme: today is ‘soup day’ to fit in with the Scaffold’s song.  There is one other thing I am going to introduce that is to have one particular activity to get up for in the morning.

I recall during periods of depression being haunted with not knowing how to fill my day.  It’s quite frightening when you don’t know how to fill your time and the whole day is before you.  As Maureen’s dementia progesses she has lost track of how to fill time, because she has forgotten her daily routines.  I made a start on this yesterday  and Maureen seemed pleased that we would try to visit her Aunty Ethel.  Unfortunately it didn’t happen and by the afternoon Maureen had no recollection of our plans.  We will visit Ethel some other time and she will regale us with all sorts of stories about Maureen’s childhood.

Today we are hoping to make a trip to Grimsby.  That will give us an opportunity to get one or two things that we need.  I am hoping that we will be successful in making more progress on the underwear front.  Maureen is getting really distressed yet again that most of her underwear is uncomfortable.  It will also give us a chance to move on an early morning exchange

As we were chatting in bed  this morning, Maureen mentioned that we had not found a radiogram.  I will need to look back but I think it is a couple of weeks ago that we were talking about possibly buying a radiogram.  In the time that has passed since the idea first surfaced I don’t think it has come up again.  So all this ,as are other aspects of Maureen’s presentation, is fascinating to me.  I try to be optimisic about the potential for Maureen to improve her short-term memory, and I find this morning’s conversation confirmation that we may be on a helpful route on our journey with dementia.

There is no doubt that stroke has had a massive impact on Maureen’s cognitive, and functional capacity.  When she is good she is very, very, good but when she is bad she is awful.  Her energy levels are clearly a significant factor as it takes so much more out of her to process, and tiredness soon sets in.  When we overdo it she can sleep for England, and often her greatest confusion surfaces shortly after waking.

I often don’t know how to play the ‘dementia game’.  From what I can see there are no rules, only guidelines to help you get by.  My instinct suggests if I don’t nudge towards exploring the radiogram it will be forgotten; buried in the routine of the day.  I don’t think I can risk that happening as the potential for cognitive stimulation in searching for a radiogram is significant.

The general advice for the brain is: ‘use it or lose it’ and searching for a radiogram takes us along that path.

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About Remember Me

I am a retired adult educator. My wife had a stroke in February 2014 and now has mixed dementia. Her recovery from stroke has been exceptional apart from 50% loss of peripheral vision and vascular damage. 'Dharma For Dementia' is my approach to being Maureem's Care Partner: it aims to end the suffering of 'Prescribed Disengagement' (Swaffer) .
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