The day Pops life changed is still clear in my mind, I didn’t want to believe it was time for dementia care. I arrived to help Pop get ready for the day, we were taking the kids to a school fair and they wanted Poppy to come. They adore their Poppy. Walking inside the house I knew there was something wrong, it was eerily quiet, normally he would have the radio playing by now. After searching the house I saw him through the bedroom window on the porch, looking off in to the distance, he was cold to touch. To this day, I wonder if he spent the night out there.
You learn quickly that dementia has no rules, symptom progression varies and before you know it, it’s time for dementia care. Families that I have come to know at dementia care, all have different stories and experiences, I admire them all. While our experiences were daunting, we were lucky to get Pop into dementia care and treatment early to slow symptom progression. Having a positive attitude is the only way to approach dementia.
On the way to visits, I think of Pop. How he stood by me. How he cheered me on. How he supported me. How he loved me. How he made me who I am today. No matter what mood he throws at me, I only have love and affection for him.
My children run into Pops arms. After our hellos I tend to start the visit with one of his terrible ‘dad jokes’. ‘What is the opposite of imagination? . . . I have no idea.’ Ha I never let on as teenager that I found his jokes comedic but, I’ll happily laugh with him now. Pop begins to whistle an old tune, today is going to be a good day.
My thoughts collected, I structure the day thinking only in steps, preferably small steps so it’s not a mad rush keeping everyone together. Pretending I’m speaking in another language to Pop, encourages my communication to become animated. The gestures help him understand what step is next and the great thing is, it’s normality. Our whole family is full of animated characters. I swear some of them couldn’t speak if they were sitting on their hands. Acting this way helps him do things unassisted, the more he can do on his own, the better it is for him.
If I am ever worried about how Pop is feeling, I use any distraction method that works to soothe his emotions. In most cases a distracting walk in the garden rapidly changes his moods. I normally hum a melody that he can recognize, something that Mum would have sung to us helps. And if all that fails I’ll normally cuddle him, praise and comfort until I can make it all better.
*Palm Lake respects privacy of the stories and letters provided to us. Therefore, these stories are written as fictional letters based on real life encounters.