wings and things

Dementia dialogues

on March 23, 2015

When I first entered the world of blogging, “Dementia Dialogues” was my chosen title. I wrote a few posts but nobody read them and now I can’t even find the site (I thought that once something was on the internet it was there forever!)

Anyway I’m rather glad that those first few clumsy attempts at blogging are now in the trash because I feel a bit stupid now for even trying to write about these kinds of conversations. I also feel presumptuous in thinking that I had some sort of secret solution to the dilemmas faced by carers of people with dementia because there is no one-size-fits-all. Every single person with dementia is an inviolable individual with a history, attitude, idiosyncrasy, personality, humour, passion, memory, skill, dream, ability that is theirs and theirs alone.

In my new job in the dementia wing of the nursing home where Ants resides (he is in the high-care section), there are ten amazing women who are utterly different from each other but, due to their dementia, are also the same.

Getting to know each of these women as individuals has been a learning curve for me. Of course I have travelled this curve before as a young nurse working in nursing homes many years ago. And now, of course, I am dealing with Anthony’s Parkinsons’ disease dementia.

We all have conversations with each other where we forget to end our stories, leave loose ends, lose the plot of the point, pause, interrupt, argue, joke, and forget what was said. Sometimes we worry about our manners, our bad hair days, our inability to bring perspective to a situation, our dirty shirts, our sneezing fits, our unswept kitchens, and our fear of dementia.

For me, a ‘dementia dialogue’ is a conversation between a person with dementia and someone without dementia and I think it is very important for the latter to just shut up and listen.

I am so lucky to have a job where I can actually do this!

(To be continued….)

40 responses to “Dementia dialogues

  1. same, i don’t have to finish any of the conversations out here either!

  2. I agree with you that that’s what’s important, listening. ❤

  3. mimijk says:

    You are a blessing – to those around you and even those of us on the other side of the world..

  4. Trisha says:

    You’re an amazing person to take on this job!

  5. susanpoozan says:

    Am very interested to read what comes next.

  6. ksbeth says:

    you are so very right, it is our job to listen. and, we may find ourselves on the other side one day –

  7. Don’t undervalue the support you are for others going through similar situations with loved ones Julie. ❤
    Diana xo

  8. I think that you’re right of course .. listening is always important but even more so with those who need someone to believe that what they say is important…. Diane

  9. Judy says:

    I love what you wrote and I do think there is an art to engaging someone with dementia. Gentle encouragement and recital of pleasant memories can help fill the awkward gaps of silence. Of course, it is true how different dementia presents in every person. I remember my mom would babble at times – I would listen raptly to her. But later on, she was very silent and could hardly speak. She was very eager to hear and a week before she died, I spoke to her as if she could understand everything I told her. It turned out she did hear me and responded to tell me that. It was an incredible moment. I wished I had talked more openly to her before that. But I was so worried it would upset her. All she wanted was to be close to me and know how I was doing. All of this is very painful to think about. What you go through on a daily basis is pretty challenging. You cannot realize this now perhaps, but one day you might. I’m so glad you found writing, as I did, to express your feelings!

    • jmgoyder says:

      Thank you so much for this insight Judy. You are a hell of an amazing person and every time you talk about your mother I get such a pang. xxx

      • Judy says:

        You’re welcome, Julie. I know it’s because your mom is also your best friend. I know we are/were blessed to have our mom there to get us through the toughest things and celebrate our joys with us, as well.
        You are also amazing!

  10. Terry says:

    This is excellent advice. No use in trying to ask questions, better to just listen

  11. Rhonda says:

    You are brilliant and they are blessed to have you (and you them no doubt) xoxoxo

  12. magicallymad says:

    Wow, it has been so long since I’ve been on, when did you start working at Anthony’s facility?

  13. Vicki says:

    No truer word said…….Listen.
    It’s a Gift these days, not a Given.

  14. Yes so bloody true but so many people do not know how to shut up and listen

  15. bulldog says:

    They must still be there unless you deleted the blog …

  16. Good on you for keeping up the blogging on this site!

  17. listening is so underrated! you have a way about you and i believe there are no barriers you can not break. thinking of you and your guys:) sending hugs and love

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