A year or so ago, I treated a man with dementia. He is well traveled, intelligent, witty, and a general joy to be around. However, the encroaching memory deficits have caused paranoia, confusion, and obsessive behaviors. Towards the time he was to be discharged from therapy, he had established a method to remember people's names and jobs or responsibilities.
In his mind, he was the General in a war-The brain of it all- He had imaginary troops in each direction (North, South, East, and West)- He categorized everyone he met- and was very efficient about it. His method was remarkable, he remembered the names and jobs of most of the employees. In short, If I needed information of this sort, I consulted with him.
If you worked rehab- you were from the nothern troops, social services came from the east, etc. However, if he ever identified you as part of the western troops...God help you, you had done something that made him very unhappy and you were the enemy- and he was NOT going to willingly accompany, speak with, or tolerated any member of the western troop. He took his war seriously and we spent hours discussing strategies for troop movement and manipulation. Basically, he just wanted to know how the troops (nurses, CNAs, doctors, other staff) could best assist him in his current situation. So, together, we would rally the troops and get tasks accomplished.
I saw him yesterday, in a secured unit of our building. There was a flicker of recognition in his eyes and a tentative smile. He greeted me with, "I know you, but I don't recall your name..." to which I responded, "Hi Mr. "Jones," I am "Joyce" and I hail from the North, I come in peace."
He smiled and saluted- and said "Hi Joyce, I haven't seen you in a very long time. Do you have the latest plans?"
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
My discussion with a man who is upset because I had to discharge him from therapy. Let's call him "Larry."
Larry: "Remember me?!"
(This is a ludicrous question...he knows that he is one of my favorite people.)
Larry: (Interrupting me) "Of course you don't, you forgot my name, because you quit me."
Me: "Larry, I didn'...."
Larry: "You poor thing, you forgot me...where are you going?"
Me: "To see a patient."
Me: "Can't tell you."
Larry: "I'll follow you."
Larry: "To tell her that your gonna quit her too..not to be surprised when you quit her after 30 or 60 days."
Me: "Bye Larry, miss you."
Larry: (Grinning) "Miss you too."
When the residents hear the music, many perk up and propel to the circular drive.
With walkers, canes, wheelchairs, motorized chairs, and spare change.
And for a moment, every forgets about the aches and pains that come with age.