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.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Interventions or Are They Daily Activities of Life?

In my comments to Kate Swaffer on her blog and in our backs and forths replying, I am becoming more aware of dementia in terms of thoughts, opinions, and attitudes of those who have it and those who do not. I have become more sensitive but still hold strongly to some of my previous views.

So based on a recent post of Kate's on things that can be done to help people with dementia in a better place, especially when distressed, agitated or upset, in place of using drugs, I made these comments.

You can read her full post here:

If the activities help, in place of drugs, great. You are right to wonder about calling them "interventions" as they are the daily activities of life just used more purposefully. 

I wonder why you feel that many of the activities are good for residential but not in the community use. You say that they are "just things people do" so why not do them wherever and whenever needed?

I am a person without dementia and I put on my headphones and listen to music when I need to calm my nerves or control my periodic depression. I take walks to help me think. I pet my cat, play fetch (she actually returns the puff ball to my hand,) laugh when she climbs circus style to the top of a ten foot ladder, and cry into her fur when sad.

My theory is (and it is not original) "Whatever works, works. That is the measure of doing it or not!" 

Gerry, who has advanced dementia, loves her doll, talks to it, protects it, and shushes us when it is sleeping. It keeps her happy and feeling useful. What is the matter with playing with dolls if it works.

Vivian. who is less advanced than Gerry, says, "That is so foolish to play with dolls. My children are grown and I don't have to baby them anymore. I'd rather eat ice cream to keep me happy." What is the matter with eating ice cream and gaining a few pounds if it works. Also in small amounts and if monitored will it really hurt a diabetic?

Gregory has a Teddy Bear because I felt a "doll" would not "speak" to him but wanted him to have something like a "blankie" to comfort him. It works! He has always loved Teddy Bears. He loves this one who we have pegged, "Peaceful the Bear." 

He holds it for comfort, throws it down when he is upset. He cries into it when listening to emotional classical music and he fondles its soft fur absent-mindedly.

The bear has become a mascot for many of the residents and most of the staff at Gregory's memory care facility.

I have three more identical ones in the closet in case one goes missing or falls apart. I laughingly tell myself that I am a good mother. And if that works why not do it!

* * *

On a separate note, I am thinking about some of your recent facebook issues and your periodic comments: "Please leave your comments but leave your value judgement behind."

It reminds me of when homosexuality in the 70's and 80's was just beginning to organize itself, become more visible, fight for justice, come out! The Gay Men and the Lesbians more often than not bumped heads and battled when it came to labels like Gay and did that or did that not include Lesbians? And who is speaking for whom and why!

Now we are GLBTQ and very visible (including more and more same sex marriage support world wide) So call it what you want Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, and/or Questioning ... we have come together.

The current (for lack of better words) battle between those with dementia and those without dementia, between those diagnosed and those who give care might just be leading us to a better place. Since reading much of your work and having done other research, I find I am being more careful with my vocabulary and realizing that some of my views are arguable and even insulting to some. 

I just recently (on waking in the middle of the night) revisited one of my blogs to clean it up. It came on too strong and for people who do not know me could very well wreak havoc in opinions. So I was comfortable to scale my comments back enough to still get the message across but not to offend anyone or open wounds or create new ones (especially for me:-)

Thanks Kate for being there!

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