We all know that dementia shows itself in a surprisingly large amount of ways. In fact, no one’s diagnosis is going to be exactly the same so it’s important that we always see the person, not the disease when it comes to helping our loved ones. However, something that’s fairly common, is that as the condition progresses, it becomes harder to do simple everyday tasks. Sadly, one of the reasons people used to say elderly relatives had ‘gone a bit funny’ or ‘senile’ was because the disease, be it Alzheimer’s, Dementia with Lewy Bodies or Vascular Dementia tends to play havoc with someone’s ability to understand the link between thought and action. Another way of describing this process is that of ‘sequencing’ or instructions that are always carried out in a specific order.
To this end, if you have been dressing yourself for years, and years without any bother but now can’t remember if the jumper goes before your t-shirt, or indeed to remember to wear a jumper at all it’s because your brain’s ability to understand sequencing has been disrupted. Should you, or your loved one be struggling to remember sequences, or the order in which things go then it may be easier to write it out together or use coloured pictures/flashcards. Remember, they aren’t trying to be difficult or confusing – in actual fact they may be trying as hard as they can do actually get dressed properly as to not be an annoyance. When speaking to someone who’s having problems with sequencing it’s also a good idea to clearly repeat what they’ve said back to them.
Not only does this give someone time to consider their answer, but it’ll confirm to you that they do want to go to the shops and then have lunch – not the other way around. Please don’t shout, or get frustrated with someone who has problems with sequencing as this tends to make them more flustered. Instead, go down to their eye level and speak in a calm, clear tone, using simple words and phrases. No, they obviously aren’t stupid but the nature of any progressive neurological condition means that their cognitive reasoning skills aren’t quite what they used to be.
Featured Image: HCC Health Professions Press