We went to visit my Mom on Sunday. She lives in a family group home about 35- 45 minutes away depending on who is driving. She is always happy to see us when we walk in the door. Does not know our names but knows we are "her people ". Hugs and laughter abound. We had decided to take her out on a field trip. Checked with the owner and she said Mom had just gone to the bathroom. Good.
Mondy (my husband ) was driving and Grace and I were in the back seat. Mom just started laughing and talking about whatever she saw and waving at everyone as we drove. She started to get a little too handsy with Mondy - her/my husband so we pulled over at an overlook and switched drivers.
She continued laughing, but wanted him to hold her hand from the back seat. Sometimes he is my husband and sometimes hers. We decided to stop at the Folk Art Center to take a look around. It is basically a shop that sells hand crafted items from artisans in this area. Thought she would love to see the beautiful pottery, quilts and other crafts. She started to get very upset and saying,
"Oh no. I need to sit down. " Came very suddenly. So we went over to the benches to sit.
What we soon realized is that she has become incontinent. We didn't know. She had a pad on but we did not think to come prepared for our field trip. So we ended up having to drive her back to her new home so she could get a shower. It seems that when out of her element she can;t find the way to tell us she needs to go but there at home she knows where it is or to say it to those who work there.
We don't want to give up on field trips so we are putting together a 'family bag'. Clean underwear, a Depend brief, wipes, bottle of water, snack in case her blood sugar goes down and some hand sanitizer.
Just thought that may help you too.
The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't being said.
Peter F. Drucker
I think this is so true with persons living with dementia. We need to be aware of body language so we can see what we don't hear. Watch for subtle things or emotional responses that contradict words.
When you are struggling with communication there are other ways to express your feeling that the person may not even be aware the are doing.
Not just with our ears. But with our eyes and whole heart.