Dementia confusion, a prevalent occurrence in Alzheimer’s, can result in recent memories being forgotten or distorted, while memories from the more remote past remain unaffected. This can cause prior periods of time to be more realistic to a senior with dementia than the present. A person’s alternate reality can be the senior’s way of making sense of the present through past occurrences.
Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease commonly have challenges with expressing themselves, and at times their alternate reality is more related to a physical need or an emotion they want to express than it has to do with the words they are saying.
- “When is my wife going to be coming home?” This question might be more about his/her need for affection or acceptance or a home cooked dinner than it could be about desiring to see his wife, who died a number of years ago. An appropriate reaction to discover more might be, “Why do you want to see her?”
- “I need to bring all these casseroles to our neighbors before the end of the afternoon.” Despite the fact that these casseroles do not exist, the words may signify a need for purpose in day-to-day life or wanting to be involved in an activity. A good reply to determine more could be, “Why did you decide to make casseroles for our neighbors?”
Maintaining a log of these types of events can help you notice a pattern in the person’s dementia confusion. The more you listen 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 Okay to Play Along?
As long as the scenario is not going to be harmful or inappropriate, it is perfectly fine to go along with the senior’s alternate reality. Doing so is not going to make the dementia worse. Bear in mind, the senior’s reality is genuine to him/her and playing along can make the older adult feel more comfortable.
If the situation is inappropriate or may potentially cause harm to the older adult, try to react to the perceived need while redirecting him/her to something safer or more appropriate.
Bear in mind the following 3 actions:
- Reassure the senior.
- React to his/her need.
- Redirect if required.
And, call on the home care team at Live Well at Home, providers of dementia care in Elk Grove and the surrounding areas recommend most. Our care professionals are on hand to offer compassionate, professional respite care services for family care providers who could use some time to rest and recharge. Contact us any time to learn more at 800-478-1209 or fill out our online contact form. For more information about all of the areas we serve in California, please see our Service Area page.