Is your name Asbestos?

Have I told you already that I find the subject I chose to study fascinating? Dementia is a course on department of psychology but it also has elements of medicine involved, and also I can research both the patients with dementia and their family’s responses to it. I was at some point thinking OMG, what have I done, could I not just go travelling instead, but it was really brief and I quickly realised again how much excitement there is in me for this project.

I keep reading Telling tales about dementia and I came across an uplifting story: a man, who’s mum developed dementia at the age of 90, after having a very active life, says how what she used to say due to her illness often made them both laugh. He also says that his mum was rarely upset despite having dementia.

But maybe one of the reason’s she wasn’t upset was that no one was upset at her when she wasn’t understanding what was happening around her or couldn’t communicate clearly? Even when she forgot his son’s name and instead used to call him Asbestos ‘for many weeks’ they both laughed.

But then, it sounds like she had a good life, didn’t she? If she only developed dementia at the age of 90, we’d still say she got a better deal out of life than most people, why get upset then?

And now let’s imagine a different scenario: you are a husband, very focused on your career, busy and tired sometimes, you may not have as much time for your family and yourself as you’d like. But you think when you retire, you’ll go travelling with your wife. You do that and on one of your trips, just a year later, you realise your wife behaviour is strange. You go to doctor, possibly private, just in case, or maybe you have one in your family, and that makes things quicker: at 67 your wife gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It wasn’t meant to be like that so what she says will never be funny, it will always be upsetting.

And one day your wife says, with an enormous passion, when you again get upset at what she does: Asbestos, have some sense of humour, for goodness sake!

Even the live in carer laughs because she can see that it was actually quite funny, but you feel desperate and cheated out of that exciting retirement that you imagined for yourself.

And I’m not saying here that the husband is in the wrong. We would all understand him, wouldn’t we? But are we able to see the person’s with dementia point of view?

If we never do, then, who knows, maybe that is one of the reasons why they get upset so easily?

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