Notes from a caregiver’s diary… Nice to know that you are not alone!

you are not aloneWell today was our first appointment with a Geriatric Psychiatrist and what an interesting meeting it was.

First Len had a chat with the Doctor, then Mary and I were invited to join in the discussion. As we entered the room, the Doctor said to my Dad, “Well Len, now, I’ve heard your side of the story, let’s see if Mary and Karen have anything to add.” My Dad laughed a bit and said he thought for sure we’d have something to say.

We talked about Len waking up in the wee hours of the morning and not going back to bed. Seems, when we wake up and see it is still dark outside, most of us just go back to sleep.

However, Len is now in a place where, when he wakes up and sees it is still dark outside, he figures that’s OK, he’s awake and it’s time to get dressed and ready to face the day. A bit exhausting for Mary who isn’t able to enjoy “catnaps” during the day and is still trying to get her rest during the night!

We talked a bit about the people who were visiting Len in the evenings. When they are around, he reminds my Mum “ these people, from another planet, have feelings too”. Len is very serious when he tells her she must be kind to them because they are confused and don’t really know what to expect. “It’s all new to them”, he tells Mary.

These visitors fit under the category of hallucinations and they’re pretty common these days. The Doctor tells us it isn’t unusual for Len to imagine things and it’s partly due to the fact his vision is compromised. Len has macular degeneration in one eye and limited sight in the other. “The brain doesn’t like a vacuum, so it wants to create something to fill it”, he says. I guess that explains the aliens — if only everything else was as easy to explain.

On our way home, we talked about what we had learned and noted that nothing we said  was at all surprising to the Geriatric Psychologist. No gasps, no “I’ve never heard this” or shaking of heads….no, it seemed that the experiences we described had all been mentioned by others before us.

Most of the time, Len is happy and helpful.

Occasionally, he is frustrated and goes into a bit of a funk…but, at those times, my Mum and Dad have learned to give each other a bit of space. Then, after a few minutes, things are pretty much back to normal.

Well, at least the new normal.

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TCS-LOGO without Saint Elizabeth

Ontario Science Centre

FRIDAY, MAY 6, 2016

10 am – 5 pm