The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #150683 Message #3514057
Posted By: Little Robyn
11-May-13 - 09:45 PM
Thread Name: BS: Dementia tips for carers
Subject: RE: BS: Dementia tips for carers
I was working with a group of adult Down's people and noticed a pattern as they approached 60 years of age. Some just slowly aged so that by 65, they were like 80-90 year olds, but the others developed a form of dementia in their mid 50s - early 60s where they slowly forgot how to talk and to walk and lost the ability to do things they had been really good at when they were younger. They all loved knitting so as long as they weren't getting too frustrated with it, it didn't matter if their stitches were doubling in number or making holes everywhere. When that became a problem, they were just happy to hold a ball of wool - wind it up then unwind it, as long as they had something familiar in their hands. When I last saw H on her 70th birthday she was just slumped over at the table. I spoke to her and put some wool in her hands and she came alive again - just for a short while.
While they were still able to walk, we had to walk them down the hallway to the bathroom and as we reached the edge of the carpet and the start of the lino they would stop and look down and freeze. It did seem like a hole to them. We had to distract them to get over the 'hole'. With C it was singing - I'd start one of her favourite songs - 'I love to go a-wandering along the mountain track, And as I go I love to sing my knapsack on my back. Valdereeee......' and by then we'd be marching down the passage way, happily keeping step with the song.
For B it was different. He didn't sing but he loved marching - his brother was in the army, so I would start Left, Right, Left, Right and we'd be off.
These people were born at a time when a Down's child didn't have much future - their life expectancy was maybe 20 - 30 years if lucky, but the 'children' who lived at Hohepa Homes in NZ were taught many life skills - crafts, farming, woodwork etc and many have lived well into their 60s and 70s. But the dementia at the end is a cruel trick for life to play on them.