Of course people with dementia feel stress, maybe especially because they have dementia and how it limits the way they can deal with the others and others will try to deal with them.
In my case, I have recently started to have problems understanding what people are saying to me. Spoken words are easily lost in echoes, the background noise of social situations, different styles of speaking such as diminishing volume when people are saying something private, hypersensitivity to perceived anger in areas of behavior about which I am self conscious (don’t tell me I missed an area shaving after I put the shaver down because of the environment), and don’t assume because I do not immediately respond to a question that I cannot hear you or do not understand you. I may not multitask as well as I did before. Sometimes I just have to respond to the most important things first and shaving is not the most important.
People around those with dementia may quite often misinterpret the behavior or words of the person with dementia. For many with dementia, facial expressions and other nonverbal behaviors do not match those of the majority of the population and while someone might look angry with you because their facial expression seems quite “unusual” they might actually be laughing heartily at a joke you just made. Lack of smiling does not necessarily mean lack of interest or lack of happiness. In fact, it is even quite likely that the person is most happy at those times they have a rather blank looking face because they are thinking so much about something good and enjoyable that the energy is not going into moving facial muscles.
All of this “disconnect” behavior can lead to stress for the person with dementia or cognitive impairment, the person dealing with other issues (everybody has issues), and the pair trying to have an enjoyable and productive time together.
How to cope? I have a few ideas that often work for me. Will they work for you? I DO NOT CLAIM TO KNOW NOR AM I CITING ANYONE WHO HAS ESTABLISHED EMPIRICALLY THE VALIDITY OF WHAT IS SAID BELOW. THE INFORMATION IN THE MIND MAP IS BASED ON OBSERVATIONS I HAVE MADE OF MYSELF.
THE INFORMATION BELOW IS NOT PSYCHOLOGICAL OR MEDICAL ADVICE. SEE AN APPROPRIATE MEDICAL SPECIALIST OR LICENSED MENTAL HEALTH PROVIDER IF YOU HAVE THESE ISSUES. I HAVE NEVER HAD A CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGICAL PRACTICE WITH PATIENTS, I AM NOT A PHYSICIAN, AND I DO NOT CLAIM ANY EXPERIENCE IN PROVIDING PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES OF A CLINICAL NATURE.
So here is a perspective based on me and containing actions I take. I make NO claim that these fit you or that any of the reactions I have are the same as yours. TALK TO A DOCTOR OR OTHER LICENSED PROFESSIONAL. Think of the following as set of hypotheses only one person (me) believes and I am not claiming that I believe that these ideas fit you.
Having said that, here are issues I think about for me.
Click the image to expand it.
Want to learn more about my experiences with cognitive impairment and dementia and attempts to fight back using visual thinking methods and mind mapping to understand and communicate the problems and solutions?
<<<<<=== Over there on the left. Click on one of the book icons to obtain my new book Mind Mapping, Cognitive Impairment, and Dementia. Versions are available for Apple devices on the iBooks store and all other common devices on the Amazon Kindle store. There are 100s of essays like that in this blog post. And because I know the information is unique and valuable, I am charging about the same as others who write books on dementia or mind mapping. If you cannot afford to purchase the book, contact me and we will figure out a way to get it to you.
Yeah, I know, shameless self promotion. How else do you expect me to get the message out about the “real issues” in dementia care and some very low cost methods of assistance that may help some (or many) and potentially increase the period of independence and get away from stacking people up in hospital beds where their lives become very limited. As someone who lives with the problems I describe, I only have a limited period of time left for my brain to function well enough to get the message out, and I am going to use it as effectively as possible to make my messages stick in the minds of people with dementia, caregivers, family, healthcare providers, decision makers, those aging, those with other types of cognitive impairment, and other interested parties. Expect more shameless self promotion. Doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I am kind of proud of the fact that I want to shake up and expand your conception of what the problems are and what are some possible solutions most have never even considered.
Let’s do this together.