Dementia 201

Now that you’ve gotten over the initial shock of the diagnosis.  (Do you ever get over it?)  Resolved that we would life “IN SPITE” of this disease and not “IN” the disease, we did our best to maintain our same social life and activities.  They just needed to be tweaked them a little.  SIMPLIFY!  SIMPLIFY!  SIMPLIFY! There was a “can do” list for Jerry.  Since “they” say that we must continue to use our minds and that dementia people need to continue to be as independant as possible, I refrained from catering to him too much at the beginning.  We continued life as normal as possible.  Ate out.  Traveled.  At home, while I was at work, I had a list of things for Jerry to complete while I was gone.

1. Fold laundry.  He can still (12 years later) do that.

2. Do puzzles, word searches, geometric art.  The puzzles were pretty simple.  One, in particular, he really liked.  It was a map of the United States. Since we travelled so much and he had flown everywhere (in the world, it seemed) he had visited every state. It was  VERY SIMPLE;  large pieces for ages 7-9.  When I would come home from work, he felt like he had accomplished something.  He was able to do these things for about 6 years.  Now, we’ve put the puzzles away.

3.  Help clean the kitchen.  Put the dishes in the dishwasher.  (good sorting skills)  Now, he can at least put his plate on the counter.

4.  He continued to play golf, even when he couldn’t play golf.  His buddies would fudge......QUITE A BIT.  This was a “godsend”.  He played for years.  Now, he’s been “icsnayed”.  No one will even take him out, accept for his faithful friend, Bruce, who picks out his club and points him in the right direction.  His swing is natural, so it doesn’t take much thought to connect with the ball.

As Jerry began to get more confused, things needed to be simplified even more for him.  When we ate out....we ate early and in less crowded restaurants.  We reduced our social get togethers to a party of more than 8.  I found that conversations would continue without him, leaving him isolated.  He would even retreat as the night went on.  So the smaller, more intimate, the group the better.  Jerry responded much better when the people actually engaged in a conversation with him...not around him.  I placed him in the center of the group at a table...not on the end where he would be left out.

Nap time was very important.  Even if Jerry could ramp himself up to do an activity, he had no stamina.  He would not be able to persevere for very long, so naps would help recharge his brain.  In the beginning, I found that he would watch TV  for hours upon end.  Boo!  So I always tried to schedule something outside, with TV as his rest time.  Now, I wish he would sit long enough to watch TV.  (Be careful what you wish for.)  The only thing that keeps him in one spot is football.  Go figure!

That’s enough for today.  Will continue with dementia 202 next week.