Mirrors, Strangers, and Friends in Dementialand

I know a man who accused his wife of cheating because this old guy showed up in their bedroom at night. I recently talked to the daughter of a man who refuses to take showers because he is sick of a creepy dude watching him. A woman at a local nursing home thinks that the woman in the mirror is actually the woman in the next room, and she keeps telling that woman to find a hobby instead of sitting there all day. And I know multiple individuals with dementia who have told family members that people are breaking into their homes. A few have even called the police. Continue reading Mirrors, Strangers, and Friends in Dementialand

Policing Dementialand (aka Thoughts on Dementia-Friendly Communities)

We tend to judge an occupation by its worst members. We meet a few doctors with poor bedside manner, and we think doctors don’t genuinely care about their patients. We have a few arrogant professors in college, so we say all professors are arrogant. We perceive one lawyer as sleazy, so they all are. It’s a cognitive shortcut. It’s easier for our brains to put all people … Continue reading Policing Dementialand (aka Thoughts on Dementia-Friendly Communities)

Mean Listening Face in Dementialand (or the Importance of Non-Verbal Communication)

I was diagnosed by my husband as having an affliction called Mean Listening Face about four years ago. A college student that I had in class previously was at our house for pizza. She was telling me about how she had recently applied for a few positions at non-profit agencies. She looked at me and stopped in the middle of a sentence. “Oh, is that not a … Continue reading Mean Listening Face in Dementialand (or the Importance of Non-Verbal Communication)

Praying for the End in Dementialand

I was 23 when my grandpa passed away. He had a lot of chronic health conditions, including diabetes, and he’d recently had a leg amputated. The last time I saw him in person, he kept calling the guy I was dating at the time “Steve” (although his name was not Steve) and he was very grateful to “Steve” for helping him figure out the remote control … Continue reading Praying for the End in Dementialand

Habits of Sane Caregivers in Dementialand

Sometimes I write for people with dementia. Sometimes I write for people who have no experience in Dementialand. But today…today I am writing for dementia caregivers. And, really, for all caregivers. If you are a caregiver, things can get pretty rough. I can show you research studies on the rates of clinical depression among caregivers. Spoiler alert–they’re astronomical. (They’re high among caregivers and higher among … Continue reading Habits of Sane Caregivers in Dementialand

A Bad Day in Dementialand (aka Why I Am Not a Saint)

Any frustration I feel working with people who have dementia does not compare to the frustration of having dementia. Sometimes I have anxiety when I work with people who have dementia…because I worry I’m not handling a situation right or that I’m making things worse. But that anxiety is nothing compared to the anxiety some of my friends with dementia feel. Continue reading A Bad Day in Dementialand (aka Why I Am Not a Saint)

Assholes in Dementialand

One of my college students, Hillary, had come with me to a particular adult day center once a month for a couple of years. Today was her last day because she was headed to grad school at Syracuse. One of the guys, who I will call James, was really attached to Hillary. He would rush in, pushing his walker to make sure he got to sit … Continue reading Assholes in Dementialand

Stuffed Cats and Real Cats in Dementialand

I once got in a tense argument about whether a stuffed cat was a real cat. For the record, it was a stuffed cat but really it was a real cat. About ten years ago, I was visiting with a hospice patient on a weekly basis. Linda-not her real name-had vascular dementia (as well as multiple other health conditions) and lived at an assisted living. She was reserved … Continue reading Stuffed Cats and Real Cats in Dementialand

Candor in Dementialand (aka Notes on Whether My Hair is Scroungy like an Alley Cat)

I sometimes struggle with apathy when making decisions about the big things in life–like my hair. It used to be closer to chin length and now it’s shoulder length. I’ve asked a few friends if they like it better shorter or longer and no one gives me a straight answer. They say things like, “Oh, it looks good both ways.” They are being nice…I get … Continue reading Candor in Dementialand (aka Notes on Whether My Hair is Scroungy like an Alley Cat)