The hardest thing I find with Dad at the moment is trying to explain concepts to him. Explaining relationships, geography and dreams have become almost daily struggles. Take this afternoon’s interaction as an example:
Dad distressed as he shuffles down the stairs in his underwear: Danielle, I need your help!
Danielle drops what she is doing and with a smile in her voice and a lightness in her step responds: Absolutely Dad, I’m coming (also knowing that ‘give me a minute’ is not an option, and that Mum is savouring an afternoon nap upstairs).
Dad bordering on tears: Your mother told me to ask you…
Danielle sensing he is confused about a dream attempts to shift his mood giggles as she looks at his underwear: Ask me where your trousers are? Seriously Dad, this is a sight!
Score! Dad starts to laugh too, but then returns to confusion: We were at David’s (Danielle’s older brother) today and they took the money from me!
Danielle: Ah yes, today we were all at Luke’s (Danielle’s younger brother) but there was no money exchanged, just egg and bacon rolls.
Dad, still grasping to recall the very vivid dream he had: No, I was there and they were taking my money!
Danielle remembering the golden rule of never trying to argue a point with someone with dementia: You’re right, we were with everyone, but what you are remembering is a dream you had when you were just asleep…
Danielle knows this isn’t going to cut it and grasps for an alternate explanation: It’s like when you are watching a movie on the telly, it’s not real but just pictures.
Nope, didn’t work, Danielle has lost him with an explanation and knows there’s only one solution – Divert! Divert! Divert!
Danielle grinning: How about I make you a tea and you can take it back upstairs so I don’t have to see you in your undies any longer.
BAM! Dad giggles too.
Dad: Yes, your mother said to come and have a tea and get some biscuits.
Danielle: Excellent I will make the tea and get you the biscuits and follow you upstairs to your bedroom.
Dad: Thank you so much Danielle (refer to post on Dad’s never-ending gratitude)
Tea is made, biscuits are loaded onto a plate, I follow Dad back up the stairs and throw out another light and silly comment about his attire in a desperate attempt to make him laugh again and settle him back into bed. Almost there, until he starts back up about the dream, or rather his reality – really, what is the difference here?
I quickly suggest he watch footy finals in bed and all is good in the world. I leave the room with Mum pretending to sleep (honestly, how could she actually be sleeping with this going on?) and Dad happily content in a new moment. Because that’s all this is really, making sure he is happy in the moment and trying to move on from the ones that distress him.
While we’ve averted the crisis this time, there’ll be other dreams that in his mind are as real as day and we will go through this all over again. Any ideas on how to respond next time, are welcomed!