When someone has dementia, you will see different and unusual behaviors. Many people will just be confused, and some hallucinate or develop new habits. This is when it is time to really take a deep breath. I have seen a man with dementia eat an entire container of margarine out of the fridge in the middle of the night. The caregiver was the man’s brother who didn’t understand what was going. The caregiver always said he was “crazy”. The man with dementia developed very bad diarrhea and made quite a large mess in his room. The man’s caregiver was upset and cursing and yelling. The caregiver thought that he was doing it on purpose just to make him clean it up. Being younger I didn’t know what dementia was at the time and my friend said his uncle was “crazy.” Not everyone will act like this but they understand the feeling.Thinking back to this time I realize that many caregivers know this feeling. They just don't understand why a loved one does something or that they messing things up on purpose. When you have a loved one that can seem so normal sometimes and then have bouts of confusion. Most people understand and know that it is the disease. Do we really understand or just keep calm and deal with it? So what can we do to get some more perspective? One good program to really get a better understanding is the virtual dementia tour
Going through the experience of the tour can really open your eyes about living with dementia. VDT gives you a chance to experience some of the sensory issues of a person with dementia. Here are few things you realize after the tour.
1) When giving directions make it as short and simple as possible. Your loved one may be hard of hearing and confused. So, giving your loved one a list of directions or multiple instructions at once is going to lead them to freeze up or do something totally different.
2) Your loved one might not be able to do tasks that they used to. You get to feel what it is like to have limited dexterity. Your loved one may have arthritis or just general lack of ability to do fine motor tasks.
3) When someone is expecting, you to do something and you don’t understand is embarrassing and frustrating. Your loved one may be just as frustrated as you. Even if your loved one has dementia they may still be embarrassed by what they have done.
This is really a chance for you to understand and realize that it is just as hard on your loved one as it is on you. This is a light bulb moment for most people when they start to realize some of the mistakes they have made caring for their loved one. After the tour you do a short interview to see how your perception has changed. This has lead to many good discussions and learning moments for caregiver and family members. Check with your local area on aging and find out when a VDT is going on. Go and take the tour it does not take a long time 30 minutes at most. That 30 minutes can really change the way you care and understand your loved one.