Understanding the Challenges of Dementia Part Two: Aegis Living is proud to present this three part series of Aegis Brain Health Minutes featuring one of the world’s leading dementia educators appearing at Aegis Living, Teepa Snow. Teepa brings 35 years of clinical geriatric care in her trademarked “Positive Approach to Care” training.
“So early signs of change are interesting because everyone that we run across at some point has been really stressed out, really tired, really frustrated. And when we get like that our brains are fritzy. And so when we experience that same thing from the outside, it’s easy to look at it and think, “Well, you know, I’ve done things like that.” But then you start noticing a pattern of it happening. It wasn’t just once, it’s a repetitive kind of pattern. So it’s taking an example of something and then it’s repeat, repeat, repeat. And typically we only see these things during problematic times, but then we start noticing them when it isn’t actually a problematic time. And the kinds of things you might notice is I have a hard time holding on to new data and I’ve always been a data person, but now I’m saying, “So, what time is that appointment?” it’s like, “We’ve talked about this, what time did I tell you? I don’t know. Did you say? Oh, yeah. It’s on the calendar. Well, who put it on the calendar?” That’s a very different response than with normal aging. I would say, “Oh, crap. That’s right, I wrote it on the calendar. Jeez. I need to pay attention to my calendar.” So what I just did is I didn’t recognize what I had done, even when I had done it.
I also might get lost when I’m driving or going somewhere. I often do okay getting somewhere but it’s turning around and coming back, and I get off and then I get worried because how did I get that lost? Well, you know, they had a detour or sometimes I come up with excuses and sometimes I’m just scared. I don’t know how…they’ve changed the signs or something. And then I start having issues sometimes with my emotions. I’m much more emotional or I’m flat or anxious a lot of the time, or I’m sad, or I get a little silly and it’s like, “Mom, what are you laughing about, this isn’t funny.” I also can get very impulsive, so I say things out loud that I should not say. I do things that you’re going, “What are you doin’?” I trust people I shouldn’t trust and I don’t trust people I should, and it’s like, “What are you doing with these…you let some body in, you don’t even know them.” “She’s a really nice person, I don’t know why you’re acting like this. She treats me better than you do.”
And then a very common kind of comment that you might hear, almost always a signal something’s going on, “This is about the money, isn’t it? This is all about the money. I cannot believe that you’re treating…I know what I’m doing and you don’t need to be so worried about the check book. Why do you want my check book?” And so I seem to be really focused or distressed about this money thing. So those are sort of some common things, talking about old stuff a lot and really having a hard time with newer, calling you by my husband’s name rather than my son’s, you know, your real name. And getting sort of…looking at you for a second and going, “So what is this about. What are you talking about?” And it’s like, “We were talking about the visit we’re gonna make.” “What visit?” And it’s sort of like we had a conversation and it’s like we never had the conversation.”