This is a continuation of the “Anne Davis Basting’s Book Post 2”, Forget Memory, Part 1.
Anne Davis Basting’s Book Blog Post 2 – One very important point Basting brings up is how important the mental health of the caregivers of people with dementia or Alzheimer’s is.
She gives examples of husbands or wives taking care of their significant others and how family members or friends don’t visit as much because the people with dementia don’t remember them anyway. First of all, not only is it still important that these people with the disease have social interaction, but the caregivers need social interaction as well.
These fears people have with the disease (discussed in the first blog post for the book) prevent them from visiting as often, which just makes dealing with the disease worse.
Because let’s face it: if we can make the people WITH the disease comfortable, the caregivers are still dealing with the fact that the person they love very dearly (and unconditionally) doesn’t know them or remember their history together. Dealing with this needs continuous support. If people can actually learn to “forget memory,” the disease is easier to work with from everyone’s perspective.
Now that isn’t to say that, “Okay, let’s just learn to forget everything and then we’ll be happy all the time!” because that’s simply not that easy. We want to remember things because it brings us happiness and a sense of self. However, learning to and understanding the importance of it can ease a caregiver a whole bunch.
One great example that Basting gives about the importance of forgetting memory was about a man whose wife had dementia and had to be put into an assisted living home. He came to visit her frequently and while she didn’t remember who he was exactly, she knew he cared for her and she enjoyed seeing him. The wife soon became friends with another man living in the home and would take walks together, arm in arm. When the husband saw this, he got upset (because he’s a man and that’s his wife), and told the staff of the home to make sure they were separated. The staff did and the wife and man who she was friends with lost a support system they had, when one was much needed.
Had the husband understood the importance of letting go and setting aside his own ego, he could have still enjoyed his wife’s company and she could also have gained a friend.
This brings up another aspect of dementia and Alzheimer’s is that it’s not completely understood yet. It’s possible that we can remember recent memories but tend to forget ones in the past. If this is the case, then this new friendship that the wife had was her still using her memory, exercising her mind, which can give hope to the relationships that caregivers continue to have with those with dementia. While the memories from long ago may be lost, it’s possible that new ones can still be made.
For more information visit www.timeslips.org. Post by Kate Valdovinos.