Published on: August 4, 2010
by Alzheimer’s Support:
One of the sadder consequence of the Alzheimer’s and Dementia sufferers failing memory is that by middle-stage they are so deep in denial about their own situation that they can easily convince others that all is fine.
They learn to compensate for their failing memory long before a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or Dementia has been made. My mom was totally deaf by the time I made an appointment to have her hearing checked because she continually assured me that she could hear just fine. Over a long period of time she had learned to lip-read and became so good at it that no one would guess she couldn’t hear at all. She drove her car into Middle Stage Alzheimer’s when she was a danger to others and herself. I only saw her twice a week and generally accepted what she said as truth.
And the list goes on and on–.
Once, Mom called me to complain that she hadn’t seen my brother in more than a year. I was furious until I spoke to my brother, and he explained that she had told him the same thing about me. We had both been to her home twice during the previous week, but on different days.
Mom was not lying; not when she said she hadn’t seen my brother, nor when she said she hadn’t seen me. We had both been to her home, but she didn’t remember our visits. If I reminded Mom, or urged her by saying, “Mom, remember, he brought you flowers.”
She would promptly correct herself and say, “Oh yea, I do remember that.”
But in reality, she didn’t remember it at all. Once I was aware of this little ploy, I was shocked how often Mom agreed with me and covered by saying, “Oh yea, I remember that.”
Because the Alzheimer’s sufferer senses they should remember–and knows we expect them to remember–they pretend to remember.
This can be very detrimental to the caregiver if they rely on the patient to answer questions about eating, or bathing, or taking medication. It must be assumed that middle stage Alzheimer’s and Dementia sufferers may not tell the truth, simply because they aren’t sure what the truth is. They can’t remember if they’ve had lunch, or taken their pills, or had a shower this day. They may tell you they remember because they want to please you–but they don’t remember. By the time Mom was in middle stage Alzheimer’s her short term memory lasted only seconds. She could tell you something, turn around and repeat it all again as though telling it for the first time.
It’s also important that family members don’t believe every accusation the Alzheimer’s or Dementia sufferer tells them. It’s wise to investigate, to be sure, but the patient often resents the caregiver from denying them access to their car, or pills, or a power mower, or hand guns. The patient simply doesn’t know what is and what is NOT best for him/her by this stage. And sometimes they resort to wild accusations that simply aren’t true. By middle stage Alzheimer’s hallucinations can be a common occurrence.
Remember– no one sees the haunting and disturbing behavior day in and day out like the caregiver. They hear repeated and constant stumbling over every word and suffer an oppressive amount of repetition in a single day’s time. They must repeat each instruction over and over, day after day, to a patient who never remembers.
And yet, the Alzheimer’s and Dementia patient is captive of their disease. There is nothing vindictive about their behavior. They can’t help what they say or even how they behave. That must always be remembered. Their mind is confused and there is no explaining to them now.
I’ve said this many times before–
The Alzheimer’s and Dementia sufferer does not need the truth, only comfort and love.
Although it’s great to celebrate the big achievements, it’s also important to celebrate the small wins.
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