Below is a link that may need to be cut and pasted into your browser to open.  If you are caring for a Loved One with dementia of any sort, I suspect you will find it both poignant and painful — at least I did.

http://d.yimg.com/kq/groups/7465654/785021372/name/What%20is%20That.wmv

One of those on the Lewy Body Dementia spouse Caregivers’ online group reported that her Loved One asked their adult daughter,  “I don’t know what’s wrong with me or what is going on, will I ever get better?”  She wondered what she could say to him. 

Another of the members of the group who is caring for his wife and has the gifts of perception and writing replied to that post.  I asked his permission to share his words in this post before I included them here.   This was his reply:

“[My wife] asked the same question several years ago, with the same answer and result…
 
…Their entire world around them is shattering, but somehow, they see themselves as a calm center in a whirlwind… that is why it is so hard for them to realize it is them that is having the problem and not the world around them…Think about it, what would be your reaction if things you saw, people told you  were not there…people tell you that you are doing things that you don’t remember…people and places from the past appear again..even though you “know” that they cannot be???, but there they are…you just want to get away from it all…people tell you what to do, when to do it and want you to be the same as before, but you can hardly see why…..Oh, I just feel so bad for our LO’s..and I am gradually learning even after +6 yrs of this that …oh hell, I’m just as lost as ever..maybe just foolin’ myself that I know anything about anything…”
Of all people, this Caregiver Spouse, knows very much about caring lovingly and gently in the face of whatever comes.  All of us in the group have great respect for his wisdom and insight.
One of the members of the group struggles with what the doctor suggests is more about control than it is a symptom of the disease.  Her Loved One shuts his eyes sometimes when being urged to move along and cooperate.   Is that a passive-aggressive way to exercise some control in the situation, or is it just an involuntary act triggered by some misfiring neurons due to the disease?
I cannot even imagine that there is a Caregiver out there who has not wondered if some action or inaction, some slowing down of movement, some lack of verbal response is the result of the disease process or a product of a strong will refusing to cooperate. 
Mary Ann lives in a world in which, for the most part, I have control of what she does and doesn’t do and when she does it.  The style of our relationship has always been and continues to be one in which I work very hard at determining what she wants.  I think it is fair to say that I also try to find some way to fulfill that want if it is physically possible to do so.  Now, lest I sound wonderfully accommodating, I often either use far too many words along with some attitude to tell her why it isn’t possible, or I do it begrudgingly and then grump about it.  So much for sainthood!
When I watched that short video that is referenced at the beginning of this post, when I read the online post quoted above, I was reminded of just how difficult it is to be in Mary Ann’s position or that of any of our Loved Ones who have to depend on a  Caregiver.  Mary Ann is a strong-willed, independent person.  Actually, they can be pretty annoying character traits to a spouse.  Since I have at least as many annoying traits, we have actually done very well together.  She has always had a bit of a chip on her shoulder, not about to be pushed around by anyone.  Now she has to be pushed around in a wheel chair by me.  
What must it be like for her to have someone watching her every minute, jumping up and running to accompany her to wherever it is she is intending to go, suffering the indignity of having someone else clean her bottom?  What is it like to have someone telling her that she cannot use the knives and hot stove, that she cannot go down to the basement to look for something?  I can imagine that she just wants to scream, back off and give me some space.  “I’ll tell you if I think I need you.”
Then there is the frustration of not being able to follow every question asked of her and formulate an answer based on what she wants or needs.  The book “Life in the Balance” by Dr. Thomas Graboys was an eye-opener for me as he wrote how hard for him it was to try to interact verbally.  His Parkinson’s and the Dementia were impacting his ability to process information, form thoughts, put them into words in his mind and then, finally, actually get the words out loudly enough to be heard and understood.  By the time he accomplished all that, the conversations would have moved on to the next subject.
For those of us who are Caregivers, especially full time Caregivers, it is often very difficult to differentiate between willful resistance to our attempts to get cooperation and the progression of the disease process in our Loved One.  Whichever it is, putting their shoes on for a moment can help us gain some perspective and understanding.  Maybe by doing so we can lower our frustration level just a bit  and find some more patience as we say for the twenty-first time, “It’s a sparrow.”
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