To start, i would love to share a story about something that happened during one of our StoriesLoveMusic Events at an Alzheimer's unit of a Brooklyn Elder Residence. We had just played our song called Traveling and i was asking if someone thought about a special place and wanted to tell us about it? A man spoke up, that the song has made him feel loneliness. That he felt loneliness but he also felt it was still ok, it has beauty in it. And i thought to myself and then said out loud to him, that traveling does make us feel lonely sometimes, so i really understood what he meant.
This is a perfect example of something i am learning in my dementia care research. Remember to be flexible when you ask a question, as response may not be exactly what you asked about but who cares?! They are sharing something that is their truth and very often holds a meaning that just as true.
The other care givers in my class are alot of fun to be around and have a great sense of HUMOR, which is VITAL in this work. The levity they and the teacher Nancy brings is great. The other day the women in the class got very excited planning a secret feast that we will all bring to graduation day. They are all from different countries and will bring a dish that represents their background! I am excited for this!
I learn so much in these classes and the other day something our teacher said blew my mind and helped me understand what dementia is like for someone. She said, "for someone with Dementia "The Other Room" does not exist. What? We learned that in certain moments and for those in later stages of dementia, that the moment, the here and now is all they see and "the other room next door" does not exist to them. That is why they don't remember what they did a few hours ago, SO when you ask about something that is not right in front of them right now, you may get an answer that does not make sense to you. You know the way we must suspend disbelief to watch certain theater pieces or films? If you can do this, and stay POSITIVE, BE PLAYFUL, HAVE EMPATHY, HAVE HUMOR, and most of all just ACKNOWLEDGE them, they will feel seen and heard and will share what is happening for them and not feel scared that they should share something LINEAR that makes sense to you. When you are scared or worried they feel it, they know.
Thanks for reading and always leave me a comment or question, love to hear from you. ~Ilyana
Executive Director of Stories Love Music, Singer, Story Teller, Coach and Activist.