zondag 29 september 2013
Being alone. It is difficult to image what waking to quietness is like. I am surrounded by noisy kids, demanding pets, music machines, friendly neighbors - and all my appliances seem to have their own loud language. My initial thought about waking alone, everyday, is that it must be peaceful... yet the fabric of our lives is held together by the people in it. We rely on other people to give the feedback needed to maintain adequate levels of self-identity. Looking in the mirror is not enough to tell us who we are.
With dementia, being alone is more common. The halls of old people homes are busy with residents pacing and searching. Sometimes these individuals are able to tell staff what they are looking for, but most times, the search item doesn't exist. Foraging is one of the behaviors related to dementia. People waking in the night to going through drawers and cupboards - searching. It is a disturbing behavior for the person (the anxiety of looking for something that can't be found), and for family members or facility staff.
Imagine losing someone or something, but being unable to remember that the person or item, has been permanently removed. Imagine waking everyday with the strong need to find the person or the thing. Imagine how confusing it would be to be continually told that you are wrong, and that the person has died or the thing has been long ago disposed of. I suggest that this would incur feelings of anger, disbelief, sadness - and loneliness. This is what happens with someone with dementia.
Article in today's Dutch newspaper about people feeling lonely: