September 15, 2014
One of the prevalent misconceptions that the general public has about dementia is that it only affects one’s memory. This is the furthest thing from the truth.
The fact is that dementia can also affects one’s mobility, eyesight, language skills, behavior and the sensitivity to sounds.
You may have a loved one that’s living with dementia in the more advanced stages of the disease and notice they potentially have trouble experiencing a public environment, such as a restaurant. You and a person who doesn’t have dementia can sit across from each other in a booth and have a perfectly normal conversation. However, if someone with dementia was sitting across from you; they may not be able to tune out all the other conversations happening in that public setting. For them, trying to focus on just your voice may be very disturbing and difficult to do.
I have a dear friend who has been diagnosed with dementia many years now and he explains to me that walking into a store such as a Walmart, is like entering an amphitheater. The music, the voices, even the sounds of people pushing their shopping carts around completely overwhelms him. Sometimes it’s almost deafening for him.
I have another friend that his daughter and grandchildren that he loves very much, all live in the same small house. He tells me there are days where I can’t find a room silent enough for him in his house. He stated to me that he’s very pleased that the summer school break is over because he at least has the calmness of his days again.
A simple door closing that may not even affect you or me, may have someone with dementia, be as if someone slammed the door shut causing them to jump right out of their skin. Always try to be considerate enough to at least warn them if you know of something you’re going to do is going to be loud.
Ask them if the television volume is bothering them or if the radio is too loud for them. We need to realize that their symptoms of dementia may be taking away the ability to handle sounds that were perfectly normal to them prior to their diagnosis.
Reassure them that if there’s anything bothering them that they can come openly to you and that you will take care of the problem if possible. Our goal as caregivers should be to keep their anxiety levels as low as possible and if that means a little more quite time in their home, then all be it.