I was totally moved recently by an 80 year old man with Dementia called Duncan. In the middle of a recent lunchtime in the dining room at the aged care home, he stood up in front of 40 other residents and carers, as he had something very important to say. Pots were clanging, people were talking and the ambience of the room was busy and stressful. Duncanpushed back his chair, stood up, and then loudly addressed the room.
” Excuse me everyone, my name is Duncan for those that don’t know me, and I have something important to say…”.
Duncan then delivered an impromptu speech, which was one of the most powerful & heartfelt speeches I have heard. Duncan silenced the room as he emotionally pleaded for someone to come forward with some ideas on how he can find his wife who was lost. He would accept any idea, no matter how silly, rude or crude ( his words) as any idea would be a good one as he was desperate. He told us where he last saw Ruby, and that he needed to find her as she would be missing him greatly.
After two minutes of Duncan telling us about his love for his wife Ruby, he thanked everyone for listening, burst into tears and sat down. The entire room was in shock and no one knew what to do….there is nothing in the care manual that says how to handle such a situation.We all wanted to help him and come up with an idea to find her.
The nurses weren’t sure whether Duncan needed further medication to calm him down, the carers did not know whether to give him a hug and comfort him, or tell him to be quiet and finish his meal.
It was an awkward silence that left everyone speechless.
The saddest part about Duncan’s story is that Ruby will never be found as she died 12 years ago. This is the toughest decision in Dementia….do you tell the person with Dementia the truth that a loved one has passed away, and crush their hopes and reason for themselves living? Or do you tell a white lie and give them hope of one day reuniting with their loved one?
This is Dementia….