Wednesday, 2 May 2012

It's not all about suffering..........and imaginary conversations needs to be properly investigated

The admiral nurse pointed this out to me and it fits in so well with the person-centred approach to dementia. She was responding to my saying that S's 'conversations' with the people she imagines are now quite often calm and cheerful. So why should we say she is 'suffering' from dementia? Of course when she is agitated and distressed this is upsetting for people who hear her, including me though you would think I'd be used to it by now  -  I regularly hear the word 'nothing' repeated over and over again in a devastated tone before we've even had breakfast  -  it's like being caught up the last act of King Lear. But even this, as the AN suggested, could just be a way of dealing with stress. It's certainly nice when it stops!

So if there were a way of stopping these conversations with medication  -  there isn't*  -  it wouldn't be the right thing to do. And I'll have to find another way of explaining S's condition when an explanation is necessary.

*One of the many things that amazes me about the primitive nature of the research into, and knowledge about, the condition is that very little attention seems to have been paid to trying to understand the 'meaning' of these conversations. It's usually noted, in passing, that auditory hallucinations in Alzheimer's and other dementias is rare  -  and that's it. Yet as I've explained before, they usually sound like 'real' conversations  -  even though nonsense words and phrases are thrown in seemingly at random  -  and can be linguistically quite complex. You would have thought that any researcher with an ounce of curiosity would want to find out more about them. I suspect, if questioned, the professionals would say that it was just the neurons, tangles, plaque etc. But they don't talk, it's a person talking, often about events and issues that they have clearly experienced during their life.

1 comment:

  1. Daddy talked to God in his last 6 hours of life. He could see him. Dad sat up after being bedridden and eyes rolled back, mouth open all day and he started silently talking, mouth moving, hands pointing the grandchildren and his blanket one had given him and shaking his head. later at hospice the nurse said "Oh, yes, there are angels here all over and the patients see them but we can't." Maybe, just maybe God has sent angels that speak a different language to keep your wife company and you just can't see or hear them because it's meant for her comfort alone. I've heard of missionaries who wondered why natives didn't attack after surrounding their homes, and later after peace was made and they became friends, the chief of the natives told them we didn't attack because of those great big men dressed in white carrying big swords. We would have lost. If the natives were allowed to see them to keep the missionaries safe; maybe your wife is allowed to see and talk to them to keep her from being lonely. Maybe she needs an invisible friend.