Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dementia and Word Salad

It is not unusual to forget a word or call something by a wrong name.  When dementia becomes part of the picture, however, this happens more frequently.  It is often referred to as "word salad".    My sister and I recently experienced this with Momma.  
Before I tell you the story, it is important to note that Momma is doing great, and the disease has not taken over her life at this point.  However, we are noticing certain things happening that cause us concern.
After showering one day, Momma proceeded to put on a shirt that seemed to be giving her difficulty.  This shirt had a built-in undershirt, and the entire process of getting the layers in the right place was proving to be more than she could handle.  She said, "I had a tassel with that shirt."  I asked, "You mean you had a tussle?"  She responded, "Yes, that is what I meant." 
Just a few minutes later Momma retold the story and used the wrong word again.  This is concerning, as dementia has a way of stealing words.  Alzheimer's affects the left temporal lobe where language is stored.  Often times our loved ones will make up words to use for the word they cannot remember.  This excerpt from LET'S TALK DEMENTIA  explains it well.

"Hey, John.  I need a tromby." 

"Hi, Dad.  Did you say you need a tromby?" 

"Yes, get me a a tromby." 

"John replies, "Help me remember, Dad.  What do you do with a tromby?" 

Dad seemed a little confused, but he answered with, "You know.  You use a tromby to make your hair look good." 

"Oh yeah.  I remember." 

Ask questions.  Be kind.  Listen careful.  Watch body language.  You just might figure out what is trying to be said.  Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Dementia - It's Not As Easy As It Seems

This strange picture shows our bathroom mirror covered in strips of tape.  We did this as part of the plan to crack the mirror with a hammer and take it down in pieces.  In so doing, the mirror would not fall on us and cause a trip to the emergency room.
After finishing the taping project, I really wanted to give the mirror the needed whacks with the hammer.  However, my husband had the honors.  Strike one!  No crack.  I was surprised.  Ok, let’s try again.  Strike two!  Still, no crack.  This was strange.  He was using a regular hammer.  This was a glass mirror.  How could it be?  Strike three!.  Strike four!  Strike five.  Strike six!  Finally, the mirror cracked. 
I bet if I had accidentally hit the mirror with the hair dryer, that silly thing would have cracked, and I would have been purchasing a replacement.  However, six whacks with a hammer were required to accomplish the needed task of cracking the mirror.
Things are not always as easy as they seem.  When living with dementia, day-to-day tasks can become quite difficult.  Tying shoes and buttoning shirts can be quite a chore.  The manual dexterity needed to accomplish these tasks is no longer available.  The visual field is constantly changing.  The eye-hand coordination is altered.  What seems simple can become quite difficult.
Be patient.  Be helpful.   Be kind.  Our loved ones are doing the best than can.  Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.