Dementia: ‘What’s This Santa Thing?’


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I have found it difficult to know how to play Christmas this year.  Now Maureen’s dementia has progressed to severe I’m often caught on the hop.  She clearly has little concept of time or place and often who people are.  Thankfully, she generally sees me as one of the good guys in her life: often her dad or her grandfather – sometimes ‘Paul’.  Although the latter is not always easy to fathom, as ‘Paul’ can be the man who runs this Care Home or her husband.

For the first time in ages, we have shared the same bed for the last seven nights.  This has meant that it has been much easier to settle Maureen if she has woken up distressed.  Generally, a small amount of physical contact and a few words of comfort have been enough to help her get back to sleep.  Unfortunately, this morning has been rather different.

Maureen woke in the early hours telling me she was parched.  The usual routine of a beaker of water became an elongated period of confusion.  Her questions were bewildering as she tried to determine her reality.  She even wondered if how she would know if she was drinking poison!  It took a long while to reassure her and persuade her to return to bed.  A couple of hours later Maureen was asking me: ‘what is this Santa thing?’  I couldn’t think of an appropriate answer and left her to her own devices for a while.

A short while afterward, I found Maureen downstairs in the dark.  She seemed relieved to see me, greeting me with: ”there you are I have been looking for you.’  Then she asked me: ‘if the boys had got what they wanted for Christmas?’ When I told her I was unsure as they lived away she said: ‘they come and see us sometimes though.’

Maureen is currently asleep in the single bed in our lounge; ‘my den’.  Deprived of my resting place I have been doing some domestic duties so that we can have a relaxing day together.  What I’m still not sure about is how to deal with ‘this Santa thing’:  should I give her the presents he has left in the spare bedroom or will that only add to her confusion?

Just as I am about to post this piece Maureen has come upstairs to see what I’m doing.  She has just said: ‘I wanted to get you a present’ – I have responded with what I have always said: ‘you’re presence is my present’.




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