PLEASE NOTE: Even though this blog is now dormant there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. Also, check out my writer's blog. Periodically I will add posts here if they provide additional information about living well with Dementia / Alzheimer's Disease.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Alzheimer's: The Irrelevant One

I once had a friend who's approach to conversation, his idea of humor, was to be irrelevant. While trying to have a conversation with him, he would bat the intent of the conversation in all directions other than the one intended. When trying to share information, discuss an event, or explain something I would find myself on a tangent running far away from the initial direction.

In trying to take this person seriously, trying to regard his question as significant, trying to approach our interchange with respect ... this irrelevance was really quite upsetting and unsettling. It was a waste of my energy and of my time. To organize one's thoughts and deliver them with any semblance of intelligence takes energy. Then with all the stops and starts, as I worked at sorting out what this friend really had in mind, I would begin to loose my train of thought and needed to expend more energy and more time.

Finally, when I caught on to what this interaction was all about, I would stop and ask, "Do you really want to know what I have to say or do you want to play games?" This seemed to work. Sometimes I would let my friend "go on" so as not to insult him, but I also learned how to "bring him back" to the conversation as a non-irrelevant participant (if non-irrelevant is a word.)

I am writing about this friend here, as part of my Alzheimer's BLOG, because Alzheimer's is kind of like this friend. When talking with Gregory, we will be going down one path only to find that he fell behind and took another one. I will think that he is following the conversation only to find out that he was having a conversation about something other than the one in which I was involved. I will think he understood something I shared and then realize, based on a comment or action of his, that he did not understand what I was saying, asking, explaining.

The difference between these two "friends" is that with Alzheimer's, Gregory is not being irrelevant on purpose or to be funny. Often I cannot "bring him back" because by the time I try, he has lost his train of thought and does not remember what I was saying let alone what he thought I was saying. Trying to explain the derailment consists of too many pieces and for sure Gregory is not able to follow along.

So sometimes, I just have to "waste" my energy and time, start over, or just pretend it didn't happen and that it didn't matter. Most of the the time we just get back on track and continue more or less in the direction we were headed with my compensating for the train wreck.

Sometimes having friends is hard work!

1 comment:

  1. I think your patience and kindness with Gregory is admirable and wonderful. You are so loving with him....and I know it's now always easy. You should be very proud of yourself. You handle this whole situation way better than most people would. Love makes us strong, doesn't it??



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