Thursday, February 26, 2015


I am hoping the title of this blog captured your attention.  What could it possibly mean?  I am excited to share the story.
My company offers Hospice Music for those individuals who are in their final days.  It is a meaningful experience for both the patient and for us as providers of the music.  It is very common for our clients to be experiencing dementia brought on by any of over 200 different reasons.  (Yes, there are over 200 reasons an individual may have dementia!)

Recently, a client captured the attention of Sissy, Director of Hospice Music, and she captured the attention of everyone else in the room, also.  However, that attention may not have been positive attention.

"Did you know I speak six langauges?" she asked Sissy.

"No.  I had no idea.  That's wonderful," Sissy replied.

"Would you like for me to say something in Spanish?"

"Ok.  I might not understand you, but go ahead."  Sissy, however, was in no way prepared for what the client offered.

"Whackado whackado, go to H E _ _!"  Sissy is a trained Dementia Specialist.  She understands why individuals may use curse words, and she does not pass judgment.  This response, however, was so unexpected that Sissy had a hard time keeping her composure.  To make the situation even more interesting, Sissy and the client were seated in a common area of an assisted living.  The client made her pronouncement very loudly, and everyone turned to see what was happening.  Sissy was somewhat embarrassed, and she was trying hard not to laugh.

Alzheimer's type dementia destroys the frontal lobe.  This lobe is where the ability to process what is appropriate and inappropriate is formed.  The individual may loose this ability, and they cannot be held responsible for what they may say or do.  To make things even more interesting, often times the most commonly used words are curse words.  These words are available in the brain when socially acceptable words are often lost.

The best response to someone who is being inappropriate is diversion.  Not responding may be hard, but it is a good plan.  "Well, how about we have a snack now."  Or, "Did I tell you I have a grandson?"  Change the topic, quickly, and pray the individual follows your lead.  Never get angry with them or correct them.  This is not a good response, and it will most likely cause additional inappropriate behaviors to come forth.

Life is interesting.  Keep on smiling.  Hope that gives you Something To Ponder

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Dementia and Noise

Life has been stressful these last ten days.  My kitchen flooded.  That started a series of events that I am still in the middle of resolving, but the stress has been more than I expected.  What has really amazed me has been my response to noise.

My husband and I share our house with our cat and dog, and our house is most always quiet.  Peaceful.  Calm.  Serene.  Organized.  Clean.  And then the great flood of January 2015 hit my kitchen, and all those things went away.  I have come to realize that what I was most disturbed over was the noise that came with clean up.

We were serviced by a wonderful water restoration company, and they quickly installed five fans and one dehumidifier in the kitchen.  I was shocked as to how loud these machines were.  It has taken seven days for the machines to leave my home, and I am now sitting in total silence.  It is a beautiful thing.  All the noise left me tense and agitated.  It has not been fun.

This noise problem made me think about my friends and family with dementia.  When dementia becomes part of the equation, the senses can be heightened and become irritated quite quickly.  Sometimes we pick up on clues as to what might have brought about the irritation, and sometimes we are left clueless.  Being responsive to the change in our loved one in a kind manner is what makes the difference.

Momma, who has mid-stage Alzheimer's, will experience a quick mood shift when her environment gets loud.  She does not handle commotion well.  We avoid these situations at all cost.  Momma's peace of mind is more important than any situation we may encounter.  If we have to make a quick departure, so be it.  If we need to decline an invitation, we do so.  Whatever is necessary to help Momma is our goal.

All the drying machines have left my home, and I sit here thinking about how much I am enjoying the silence.  It made me think of the song The Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel.  Ahh, silence.  It is a beautiful thing.   Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.