This entry is written by Truthful Loving Kindness (yes, that is my full legal name) for publishing at http://www.truthfulkindness.com , so PLEASE address any questions or comments to that website, regardless of which website shows these words.
This particular entry is revisiting “Swiss Cheese” analogy at request. ((Originally part of an entry published 06Apr2015, but requested as separate entry by one of my dementia friends.))
So many people (both living with dementia and care-partners or family) focus on abilities lost – but that is focus on the HOLES in the cheese.
… what particular swiss cheese of dementia symptoms does your “loved one” have ??
… what areas of life (memories, abilities, etc) have holes instead of cheese and skills,
… and how to make the most of the abilities that are part of the CURRENT normal.
… in hopes that you, as Coach, Professional, or Loved One,
can apply that lived information in your relationships and tasks.
i cannot tell you which abilities remain, for your loved one, because
… each of us had different abilities before dementia,
… each of us is losing abilities in a different time scale, and
… each of us has specific areas of brain that are localized “targets” for our own dementia.
… But i can illustrate the concept by talking about myself;
My most intact skills are in Research, Relationships, and wRiting.
In contrast, the biggest holes (where symptoms have removed my abilities) are in Reading, ‘Rithmetic, and Remembering.
… My reading comprehension has now dropped from University-level to my reading abilities when i was 4th or 5th grade. (but with the addition of SIMULTANEOUS audio version, then i can sometimes read books that i enjoyed in 6th grade).
… My last job was in Accounting, but now I couldn’t tell you whether 123 was larger than 132.
… And my husband says I often repeat the same question.
I also have a hard time recognizing the way he looks, but I recognize his voice immediately.
I have smell hallucinations, usually of something burning, (which I discovered is a very common hallucination smell with my PWD friends)
and once in a while I have visual hallucinations –usually bugs. (How fun, huh?)
These are disabilities, However;
… the issue is to focus on the remaining abilities.
My ability to communicate with written text is difficult and requires adaptation of lots of line breaks, much use of the capitol “L” (because lower case L looks like a capitol “i” and numeral “1”), and other strategies … but written is still much better than spoken and heard communication, where i am having constant misunderstandings. Each person is different with whether visual or audio communication is better, and that will probably change as symptoms change. So at this time i prefer FOCUS on written communication.
Memories are kept in different places of the brain … which is still most intact for your loved one ?? (This will be answered by neuroPsych testing, which is usually part of diagnosis process, and periodically afterward.)
Is music helpful for your loved one — at this stage ?? For me, mostly music is not helpful, as the audio section of my brain is severely messed up.
My tremors have become a horrid part of my symptoms, which is not uncommon for vascular as well as Lewy-Body types of dementia. So strategies that need fine motor skills are no longer helpful for me personally — but my analysis skills are more intact, so how can those be used?
— you get the point: FOCUS on the remaining cheese, instead of the “holes” which have our DYS-abilities. (But in order to retain that focus, we need to have already strategized for ways to handle the dys-abling parts of living life.)
Above was part of my speech at 2015 annual ADI world conference >> https://truthfulkindness.com/2015/04/06/value-for-lived-experience-of-pwd-as-contributor-to-dementia-friendly-community/ .
… and you might want to check out the Links gathered for Dementia Symptoms and Strategies (alphabetized) at https://truthfulkindness.com/about/d-info/links-sx-strategies/.
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Text Copyright © Truthful L. Kindness on 27Feb2022. Pic of swiss cheese was created by me as a slide during my speech at 2015 annual ADI conference.. ((Thanks for the request, SusanMM.))
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Tags: ability, alzheimers, dementia, disability, focus, mood, person with dementia, PLwD, strategy, symptoms. S&S categ: confusion, planning, stages .