Managing Memory Loss: Advice for Caregivers and Patients

Leah Health Guide
  • Dementia is very confusing!


    You might think that I have just come to a "duh" moment, but I don't believe so. Dementia IS really confusing to both the one suffering from it AND for the caregiver. My blog, though, is from the point of view of the one who has the dementia, so I will pursue that thought path.

    It seems that recently I have found myself getting confused about the simplest things. Some of this, I am sure, can be blamed on dementia, but not all. After all, not living in a vacuum, there are many other factors which could be contributing to the increase in confusion. Before I proceed any further, you can rest assured that I am NOT allowing this new issue with confusion to slow me down. And, as a side note, I should tell you that I took a meta-cognition graduate course in college. It was designed to help me teach children to understand the process they use in their thinking. Well, I must say, that the course helped me far more than I ever realized because, now, with dementia, it allows me to analyze what is happening and to try to correct it.

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    The first example of my state of confusion comes from my dreams. Recently, I have been struggling in my dreams to understand how things work. Just last night, I could not figure out how to protect my feet...I had no memory of shoes...I remember snippets, like using pieces of wood on the sides of my feet (I don't remember what was on the bottom of them)... I don't remember now the other examples found in my dreams, but I do know I have been struggling with understand in them.

    The second example of confusion centers on directions. Recently, I have received two emails from HealthCentral which explained changes to the website. I have no ability to do what they are directing. Not meaning anything negative, I must say, that-for ME-they are too wordy and very confusing. I am sure, that I would have had NO problem with them before the big D (dementia) entered my life. Another example causing me confusion was an email I received from my cousin, inviting me to exchange recipes through emails, a type of chain mail from many years ago. The directions, again, were wordy and confusing.

    All of this has gotten me to thinking about how caregivers can help people with dementia.

    • Keep wordiness to a minimum.
    • Write out directions, using as few steps as possible.
    • Use pictures when possible.
    • Check to see that the person with dementia understands.
    • Praise Praise can never be too positive! We're all just big kids and need to hear that we are doing well. But be specific when you give praise. Just giving a general "that-a-boy" all the time smacks of being insincere.

    I am hoping that my problem with confusion will diminish when my life settles down. There are things I can do for myself in the meantime, such as to

    • continue to analyze what is happening
    • not to take my dreams so seriously
    • break down directions as best I can and maybe rewrite them in my own words.
    • not take myself too seriously

  • • help someone else, which takes the focus off of myself

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    • find more quiet ME time to read and meditate
    • stay busy
    • get more physically active
    • take time to pray more often during the day

    So, here I am. What started out as a problem with confusion is now a plan for positive change. As you read this, you may realize that just about everything I have written about can also be directed toward caregivers, everyone, anyone. Thus, a realization--those who suffer with dementia are really NO different than those who do not-we are just in a different place on the path of life!

Published On: January 17, 2012