via Daily Prompt: Harmony by Clarice Cagle Cook, CDP
Sometimes, members of the family have a hard time understanding that the person with memory loss is not being inattentive or rude. In fact, the inner portions of the brain between the two temporal lobes that controls hearing, seeing, logic and assimilating new information is deteriorating. Damage is preventing appropriate sorting and bringing together information and understanding. If the input is not gathered properly, it will disappear from memory. Disruption in dealing with these ever changing behaviors can destroy a family that cannot accept and go with the flow.
Lost retention is especially frustrating for the spouse of a person with dementia. There is often conflict when the afflicted spouse remembers the past vividly, but cannot remember a trip to the movies the night before. Persons with early onset dementia can recite tiny details of a childhood vacation, but may not be able to remember to lock the door when leaving the house or to take medications on time.
Harmony can be created by first accepting the loved one with dementia in whatever stage of decline and go with the flow. Many family interactions can be made happy events. Finding the right activity can bring peace and joy in the most turbulent times.
In the temporal lobes just above the ears, sounds are captured and sent to be processed through the limbic lobe in the center of the brain and then on to the frontal lobe. If the sound is accepted as a good feeling in the limbic lobe, it will arrive in the frontal lobe via a chemical such as serotonin that calms, soothes and brings about a harmonious atmosphere. If the sound is annoying, the chemical will carry gloom to the frontal lobe.
Benefits of music to persons with stroke and dementia have been found to be astronomical. This is always my number one suggestion to clients when discussing discord. Choosing the acceptable music is also important. If grandfather gets annoyed at his grandson’s boom box with rap, it’s best not to offer that genre as an activity. Research the appropriate music for the person suffering from the ravages of dementia.
Accept the family member for who they are and ride the roller coaster with them. Never talk around them. Talk in line of sight and with them.
Have a family gathering that includes the person with dementia and make their concerns the topic of the conversation. However, keep the rhetoric light, don’t argue and make a pact to always let Grandma or Grandpa be right no matter how off track. Agree with them and then another time out of sight and sound, make the best decisions. Never discuss the loved one in the same room if not included in the conversation.
In closing, play acceptable music, participate in appropriate activities, keep conversations light, never argue, never remind them of their forgetfulness, never degrade them, talk over them…accept them and go with the flow. Harmony will be the result.