Dementia confusion, a typical occurrence in Alzheimer’s, can result in recent memories being forgotten or altered, while those from the more distant past usually stay unimpaired. This can cause the past to be more realistic to an older person with dementia than the present. A person’s alternative reality can be his or her way of making sense of the present through past occurrences.
Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease frequently have difficulty expressing themselves, and in some cases their alternate reality is more related to a requirement or a specific feeling they are trying to express than it has to do with the words they are saying.
- “When will my wife be home?” This question could be more about the need for affection or acceptance or a home cooked dinner than it could be about wishing to see his wife, who passed away a number of years ago. An appropriate reaction to discover more might be, “Why are you wanting to see her?”
- “I need to deliver all these casseroles to our neighbors before the end of the afternoon.” Even though these casseroles do not really exist, the words could actually represent a need for meaning and purpose in daily life or wanting to be engaged in an activity. An appropriate response to find out more could be, “Why did you decide to make casseroles for the neighbors?”
Keeping a log of these sorts of events can help you notice a pattern in the older person’s dementia confusion. The more you tune in and pay close attention, the easier it will be to recognize the thinking behind the alternate reality and the most effective way to respond.
Is It Acceptable to Play Along?
As long as the situation isn’t going to be unsafe or unacceptable, it is perfectly fine to go along with the senior’s alternate reality. Doing so will not make the dementia worse. Bear in mind, the senior’s reality is accurate to him/her and playing along can make the older adult feel more comfortable.
If the situation is inappropriate or may possibly cause harm to the older adult, try to respond to the perceived need while redirecting your loved one to something less unsafe or more appropriate.
Keep in mind the following three actions:
- Reassure the senior.
- React to his/her need.
- Redirect if required.
Also, call on the specialized dementia care team at All Care In-Home Care Solutions, providers of senior care Ashland and the other surrounding areas trust most. Our care professionals are here to provide compassionate, professional respite care services for family members who could use some time to rest and recharge. Call us any time at (541) 857-9195 to learn more about how we provide the kind of senior care Ashland and other surrounding areas recommend most. For more information about all of the different areas we serve in Oregon, please view the service areas listed on our Contact Page.