Monday, April 27, 2020

Visual Background Noise

For Lizzie, a lot of items in her room seem to not be visible.

While she loves her music player, she never turns it on by herself anymore. When we turn it on for her, she's always surprised by it.

Earlier in the process when Lizzie was still looking through magazines, she would only ever "see" the top one, she would never realize there was a stack of different magazines.

Even earlier in the process before Lizzie moved into the home, Lizzie stopped "seeing" the dust bunnies, the rings from tea mugs on the coffee table, the spots on the bathroom sink or mirror.

a blurry picture of a man holding his glasses away from his face
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

It seems like there is too much visual background "noise". Obviously, noise isn't the correct term as you can't see noise... at least I don't think you can. But the concept is the same.

In school, we teach kids to filter out the unimportant background noise and focus in on the important noise happening within the classroom. This works well until something interesting happens outside the window or in the hallway. Then all the attention turns in that direction.

For Lizzie, it's as if her brain is so focused on handling the important details of what she's thinking about or doing, that it ignores whatever isn't relevant to the immediate task.

Once the item is pointed out to her, she can see it, but until then, it's not visible.

I wonder if the brain only has so much available "power" and only focuses on what it thinks is important at the time.

How about you? Have you experienced your Loved One not "seeing" things that are there? Any thoughts on visual background noise?

Monday, April 20, 2020

Smiles From The Dementia Files: Episode 1

Our Loved One Lizzie is an amazing lady. She is full of fun and mischief. She's always been quick-witted and more than willing to share her opinion on everything!

In our experience with dementia, we've found that laughter is important. It's a key to coping for all of us, including Lizzie. She enjoys being able to shock and surprise those around her with her quick mind and tongue. Having dementia hasn't taken that from her yet, and we hope it never does.

elderly couple enjoying a walk along a shaded lane

Episode #1
Circa Year 2 after diagnois

Lizzie: When did you last speak to your dad?

Me: Well, he died way back in 1999, so it's been a while...

Lizzie: That's right, I'd forgotten that. *sips tea* So, do you think you'll see him tomorrow?

Me: ... probably not.

Lizzie: Okay.

How about you? Does you Loved One ask about those who are long gone? 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Power of Music 1 - Classical Songs

Music is a powerful force.

Lizzie has always loved music. She grew up listening to music on the family radio. While Lizzie's mom was into Jazz and Swing, Lizzie and her brother fell in love with classical music.

At an early age, she could identify Bach from Beethoven from Brahms within only a few seconds of listening to a piece.

When we were old enough, Lizzie and my dad bought a piano on a rent-to-own program and scrounged up the money for my sister and I to take piano lessons.

Nothing made Lizzie happier than listening to us practice the piano, especially the classical pieces that were never our favourites.

close up of piano keys on a well-loved piano
Photo by Ryan Holloway on Unsplash

Now, we can often use her love of classical music to help redirect her during stressful times.

Who is your favourite classical composer/song?

Who was your favourite classical composer/song when you were a kid?

What was the first song you remember hearing on the radio with your brother?

Did you and your brother both like the same composers/songs?

When you and your brother made your bands, what songs did you play?

When you and your brother made your bands, what did you use for instruments?

Did you have other friends who liked music like you and your brother?

What did your mom and dad think about the music you listened to?

Did you ever make up words to go along with the music?

Did you sing as a family? What songs?

How about you? Do you ever use music to help redirect your Loved One? Does your Loved One enjoy classical music as well?

Monday, April 6, 2020

COVID-19 and Lockdown

The world is currently dealing with an incredibly serious virus that is calling for unprecedented safety measures being taken in many areas.

For us, one of those safety measures is that Lizzie's nursing home is in lockdown. No visitors allowed. (Our home is making exceptions for end-of-life situations and allowing limited visitors who are healthy and pass screening.) Within the home, the residents are staying within their own units (about 30 people so still opportunities to socialize) and there are no big gatherings in the common room.

We're really glad the home is in lockdown even though it means we can't see Lizzie. More than anything we want her to remain safe and healthy.

Our nursing home has a terrific staff. They are working hard to keep the residents active and talking with them and each other.

If Lizzie was on the 1st or even the 2nd floor, we've go see her and wave through the window, but from her floor she wouldn't be able to see us. At the beginning of lockdown, there was also still a lot of snow and getting around to her side of the building would have been tough anyway!

elderly woman seated on a bench in a shaded garden
Photo by Andreea Popa on Unsplash

Lizzie no longer understands how to use a telephone so calling her isn't an option.

Within a few days of the lockdown we got a call from a staff member. They were arranging Face Time and Skype visits between residents and family. A staff member sits with Lizzie and runs the call and helps her out with the conversation. Sometimes a person on screen doesn't make sense to Lizzie.

What a great idea!! Creative problem solving at its best. It has made us all a lot happier.

How are you coping if your Loved One is in a nursing home?
If your Loved One is at your home or on their own, how is it going?