I would like to share a very personal opinion that may make people think differently when they next visit their relative in residential care.
I want to challenge the thinking of family members and how we feel about our relatives with dementia when we place them in a nursing home.
I suspect some people may miss them terribly, others may feel a sense of relief that they no longer have the burden of caring for that person anymore. Others may be content that the relative “is now being looked after” and happy to visit every few months.
My question is “I wonder how the person with dementia actually feels?”…….
Imagine yourself in their position? You have lived in the same home for many years then all of a sudden you get dropped off at a place full of strangers. You are confused and you go from the comfort and safety of sharing your life with a few family members to sharing your every move with 20-30 new people that keep changing each week and who may behave in unusual ways.
You used to be able to do most things for yourself, and now you are being told what to do by a different person/s who comes into your room every morning, turns your light on, and then tries to get you to take your medications.
Then there is the many words you have to face during your care routine as you rub your eyes…… ” wake up……do this…do that….don’t do this…don’t do that…Let me do it…..eat your food…take your pajamas off….have a shower……get dressed…you have done your buttons wrong..etc..etc….”.
Imagine how you now feel when your cherished family members may only turn up to visit you every month or so for 10 minutes? Do I feel special?…. Do I feel loved?…..probably not…
I had a lady say to me recently about her Dad… “I just want to remember him the way he used to be, so I don’t visit that often”….
Well I don’t understand why you can’t keep living with the person IN THE NOW….. Ok..so they may look, act, and behave a little different than they used to, but the person you love is still inside and just doesn’t know how to express themselves.
It is us relatives that need to adapt to their new world and FIND A WAY to communicate with the person with dementia. Learn to read their body language, look into their eyes and you will find small moments that will melt your heart. If you don’t make the time you will miss these moments, and that is really sad.
I believe aged care is not a time for letting go of the person and distancing yourself, but a great opportunity to really get to know them on a level you never thought you could.
Take the time….and you will be rewarded more than you know…..