Alzheimer’s disease alters someone’s mind so that memories pertaining to current events are forgotten or mixed up while memories about the more remote past often stay intact. This can cause prior times to make more sense to someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia than the present. With these effects from Alzheimer’s memory loss occurring, a person’s alternate reality could actually be the person’s strategy of making sense of the present through earlier memories.
Seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia often have difficulties expressing themselves, and in some cases their alternate reality has more to do with a desire or a specific feeling they are trying to express than it has to do with the words they are saying.
- “When will my husband be home?” This question may be more about a need for affection or acceptance than it could be about desiring to see her husband, who died several years ago. A proper answer to learn more could be, “Why do you want to see him?”
- “I need to take all these cakes to the neighbors before the end of the day.” Although these cakes aren’t real, the words could suggest a need for meaning in daily life or wanting to be involved in an activity. A proper response to discover more could be, “Why did you make cakes for your friends?”
Keeping a log of these types of happenings may help you understand trends in needs. The more you pay close attention, the easier it will become to discover the thinking behind the alternate reality and the best way to react.
Should You Play Along?
So long as the situation is not going to be harmful or inappropriate, it is alright to play along with the older person’s alternate reality. Doing so will not make things worse. Keep in mind, the senior’s reality is true to him or her and playing along can make your loved one feel better.
If the scenario is inappropriate or could cause danger to the older adult, try to respond to the perceived need while redirecting your loved one to something less harmful or more appropriate.
Keep in mind these 3 actions:
- Reassure the person.
- Respond to the need.
- Redirect if necessary.
In addition, call on the professional home care services of Regency Home Care. Our North Atlanta home care providers are trained in caring for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia and can provide respite care services for family members who could use some time to refresh and recharge. Contact us today by clicking here or call us at 678.999.2446.